Watched, Read, Reviewed: July 2020

Hi All. Hope everyone is healthy & well. Guess I better catch up on these monthly roundups before the end of this shitty year. Here’s what I watched back in July. If I can remember enough to say anything about each of these all these months later… !

MOVIES WATCHED IN JULY (ranked best to worst):

Infinity Chamber – This was decent. One of those movies where the concept was better than the execution but they did well enough on what I assume was a low budget. Here’s the really short synopsis from IMDb: “A man trapped in an automated prison must outsmart a computer in order to escape.” I’m a big fan of sci-fi & of a good sci-fi story so I’ll watch anything in this genre if I like the sound of it. With these lesser known films, you sometimes find some gems (Circle was pretty great) and you sometimes get some duds. Infinity Chamber is at the better end of things but I’d only recommend it to fans of this genre. I was hoping for a bit more, though. I didn’t feel that we got to know the main character well enough & I wanted to be able to sympathise with this poor guy stuck in this automated prison. And, to be honest, I found the plot a little hard to follow. Although I admit I’m not the brightest & often get confused watching complicated sci-fi but the story could have been a little more coherent.

Speaking of lesser known films, though, this film starred Christopher Soren Kelly who was also in a movie I’m happy to have the opportunity to now mention again: The Frame. Another sci-fi film with a fantastic idea, I highly recommend The Frame (on Amazon Prime – I reviewed it HERE). So watch that first! Then watch Circle (not that crappy Tom Hanks movieTHIS Circle). I actually had the actors from both The Frame & Circle thank me on my blog & Twitter for praising those movies. I love when that happens! Those involved with these independent films appreciate it when you enjoy their work so I do try to support films like these. I want to give Infinity Chamber a higher rating than this as I do very much appreciate that stuff like this gets made. I’m always afraid that stuff like this doesn’t always get given a chance so, despite my somewhat “meh” review, do check it out if you’re a sci-fi fan. – 6.5/10

No Country For Old Men – I finally watched this to get it off of two lists I’ve been trying to work my way through: The IMDb Top 250 & Best Picture Oscar Winners. Guess I need to update both those ranked lists but No Country For Old Men will unfortunately be quite far down both lists. I’ve just never been a Coen Brothers fan. Sorry! Is that allowed for a movie blogger?! (FYI – I also hate Wes Anderson movies). Well, I don’t hate the Coen Brothers films. At all. I just don’t exactly like them either. I recognise that they’re good films and, once again, No Country For Old Men is a very good film with some brilliant acting and a truly despicable & hateful character. I guess Javier Bardem was deserving of his Oscar win since I did truly hate his character, as we’re meant to. What can I say? I’ve never liked “the baddies”. I’m always rooting for the good guy & I want to see evil get its comeuppance so most Coen Brothers films aren’t for me. Although I realise their films are never as simple as pure good vs. pure evil, as Josh Brolin’s character in this isn’t exactly a saint. But we see the bad guys win in real life enough so I don’t really need to see it in movies. Yet I love dystopian sci-fi & am a big pessimist & often a fan of a truly depressing movie ending, so… I don’t know exactly why I don’t get on with the Coen Brothers films. Hmm. It’s a good film so I’ll give it a slightly higher rating than I feel like giving it. Plus I don’t want to be yelled at. Not that anyone reads this blog… – 7/10

Wildflower – How the HELL did a movie exist in 1991 starring Patricia Arquette & Reese Witherspoon without me knowing about it?! I was still in high school at that point & this is the type of movie I’d have watched to death. I think it may have been a TV movie? But I somehow missed out on it. I can think of plenty of TV movies I watched to death at that sort of time: The Stepford Children, I Saw What You Did, In A Child’s Name, and this great little Winona Ryder thing called Square Dance, aka Home Is Where The Heart Is, which was kind of similar to Wildflower. Shit, I want to track down that Winona movie & watch it again! Bet it hasn’t aged well. But I’ll always be fond of it in the same way I’m sure I’d have been fond of Wildflower if I’d seen it in high school instead of now. And I thoroughly enjoyed Wildflower as I’m a fan of the actresses & am always happy to discover unseen movies from my teen years as I honestly feel like I’ve seen them all by now. Is it a good movie? Meh. It’s fine. The acting is okay. It does very much feel like a film with a TV movie budget. But I liked the characters and, as you can tell from my No Country For Old Men review, that’s important to me. I enjoyed this. Wish I’d seen it as a teenager. – 6.5/10

She’s Gotta Have It – This is an interesting film to follow the above two as, clearly, I often like films that I can “relate” to. Wildflower has actresses my kind of age (sort of) so I know why I liked it as I was that age in 1991 & it’s somewhat a coming of age story. I can’t relate to anyone in No Country For Old Men in any way whatsoever. But I also can’t relate to anyone in She’s Gotta Have It. However, I liked it much more than No Country For Old Men. I’d possibly even rank it higher (I find it hard to “rank” very different types of films when I do these lists). I of course love to see a strong, independent woman in a movie so I really liked the character of Nola Darling (played by Tracy Camilla Johns). I also liked the men all fighting for her affections as they had such different & entertaining personalities. I kept changing my mind on who she should choose (not any of these men, really – they were idiots!). I fully admit to not seeing many of Spike Lee’s movies other than Do The Right Thing, which I thought was a great film (I’d rank that far above No Country For Old Men). Of course I’m not going to exactly relate to his films being a small town Midwest girl but a good film with good writing is something I’ll always appreciate. I enjoyed the conversations in She’s Gotta Have It. It’s so New York. Or at least how I imagine that big city I’ve never ever been to. I think a lot of people in this world are probably a little fascinated with New York as there are SO many movies set there and I like seeing a slice of life so different from my own. I enjoyed this movie more than I was expecting to & would like to see more of Lee’s work, especially from that late ’80s/early ’90s time period. Any recommendations? – 6.5/10

The Borderlands – I love a good horror. We get so few good horror films these days. This one was… Okay. Not even close to being a great modern horror (like It Follows, Train To Busan or The Babadook). But it was a perfectly decent example of the found footage & religious horror subgenres & had a good creepy atmosphere. I also kind of liked the ending as it got a bit weird. I like some weirdness! The whole thing could have done with more of that. I have NO clue why but this one made me think of horror movie The Ritual. That was an odd one. Oh, probably just because they’re both British. Anyway, The Ritual has gone up a bit in my estimation since I first saw it. That one was better. But if you like that, you might like this. And vice versa. – 6/10

Blades Of Glory – Sometimes you want to chill out with a dumb comedy. I don’t give comedy films enough of a chance as I hate so many of them, especially nowadays. So I tried to be open-minded! But this was disappointing. A little too dumb. Maybe I chuckled once? Can’t remember. Saw this four months ago now & already barely remember it. Meh. Will Ferrell is very hit or miss & this was a miss. – 5/10

Step Brothers – Ugh. This movie was truly dreadful. I actually watched it immediately after Blades Of Glory as I thought it looked like it would be the better of the two and I like John C. Reilly sometimes. I was so wrong! I think it made me appreciate Blades Of Glory more. Dumb & immature jokes and two grown men acting like hateful teenagers. Another big Will Ferrell miss! I’ll stick to SNL Celebrity Jeopardy & Elf. And, hell, that Eurovision movie too as it was surprisingly enjoyable. Cheesy but enjoyable. Step Brothers was just painful. Do people not moan when grown women act immature in things like Bridesmaids?! Why is it okay when grown men do the same sort of so-called comedy? (For the record, Bridesmaids isn’t my type of thing either but the comedy in that was a hell of a lot better than in this piece of crap. I at least get some laughs out of Bridesmaids). – 4/10

Golden Time – This was an animated short on Netflix. I forgot about it until I noticed it listed here all these months later. It was fine. It was certainly better than those two dumb Will Ferrell comedies but it’s just a short so I’m sticking it at the end of my list. And I’m not rating it either. Because it’s four months later & fuck if I remember much about it now!! It was about a TV in a junkyard. I think. What an amazing review! Wow I suck at blogging these days. I probably liked it because there were anthropomorphic inanimate objects. A favorite thing of mine! I used to do a series on this blog called Anthropomorphic Cuteness. I miss doing those posts.

Movies Rewatched In July:

Already reviewed most of these in the past (in the links below). I seem to have spent lockdown re-watching movies more than watching ones for the first time. I’m missing first-time watches, but what’s on offer on the services isn’t great…

Weird Science – I will always love John Hughes movies (which is why I did a big John Hughes Blogathon here years ago. Ah – the good ‘ol blog days. Happy times…) – 8.5/10

The Truman Show – Finally introduced the kid to this one. Think she liked it. I think it’s a great film & that Jim Carrey was perfect for the role. I remember the movie seeming a little exaggerated at the time. Not now! We’re certainly living in this sort of reality show nightmare now. They tried to warn us! – 8/10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – Meh. The first two films (and books) are so much better. But the kid thoroughly enjoyed these films. – 7/10

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 – Still hate how this book ended… But still think Jennifer Lawrence was born to play Katniss. – 7/10

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective – Showed the kid the other (and main) side of Jim Carrey with this one. Should I admit that? It’s a bit inappropriate. Screw it – I saw stuff no less inappropriate at her age. And she of course loved it when he talked with his butt. Kids are so immature… (Speaking of dumb comedy like when I bitched about Step Brothers, I know Ace Ventura is dumb too. But I like it. – 7/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN JULY

BOOKS READ

Flight Or Fright: 17 Turbulent Tales edited by Stephen King & Bev Vincent – Enjoyed this. I really like short story collections, especially in the horror or sci-fi genres. I’m not going to go into each story but, if you like Stephen King’s stuff (or his son Joe Hill’s), you’d like this collection of stories from various authors both well-known & not so well-known. They’re all stories revolving around airplanes and/or flying. So don’t read it while on a flight! Not that anyone can fly anywhere at the moment anyway… – 3.5/5

The Taking by Dean Koontz – I love Dean Koontz books. They’re a huge guilty pleasure of mine. I ranked them all HERE once. Well, I don’t love ALL his books. I sometimes really don’t like one. I didn’t like this one all that much. Not sure why. But, man, is it fucked up! I should love it. I like full-on supernatural weirdness. I have to say that, if it had been made into a movie, it could’ve been a kick ass body horror film! Again, I should like it as I have a weird fascination with body horror films (mainly those from David Cronenberg). I don’t know – I think maybe the characters just weren’t that strong. I usually like Koontz characters (Odd Thomas is great). I’ll give it an extra half a point for Koontz saying fuck it & going fucking crazy with this one. – 2.5/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Well, I made no notes here of what I watched so I guess I watched no TV shows in July. Let’s be honest – only The Mandalorian & Cobra Kai are worth watching anyway. Those are the only shows I’ve truly enjoyed in years.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Umm. Maybe I’ll attempt to post my monthly roundups for August, September & October? If I can be bothered. 🙂 I’ve watched nothing that great anyway. Except The Platform! That was good. Man, I can’t wait to see Pixar’s Soul at the end of December…

I always try to end these roundups with good music from a movie that I watched that month. Think I’ll go with something from Weird Science. John Hughes always chose the best music for his movies. This is my absolute favorite song from Weird Science & an overall Eighties favorite of mine – here’s Tenderness by General Public:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: May 2020

Hi All. Here’s another roundup post with everything I watched in May. Looks like it was X-Men Month in our household…

MOVIES WATCHED IN MAY

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale – I was surprised when this movie turned up in the IMDb Top 250 (a bit later, after starting my project HERE). So I figured I’d check it out as a part of the project that I’m never ever going to finish. This is a lovely, heartwarming & very understated film. It’s inspired by a great true story about a very loyal dog in 1920’s Japan. I’d love to now see the original Japanese film Hachikō Monogatari from 1987. I unfortunately found out a bit too much about the story beforehand so I won’t spoil it if you don’t know it. I think this is one where you’re better going into it without knowing the story beforehand. If you’re a dog lover, you’ll love this film. – 7.5/10

Fruitvale Station – I watched this at the beginning of May & it of course became even more relevant later on. This is also, unfortunately, a true story. From Wikipedia: “Fruitvale Station is based on the events leading to the death of Oscar Grant, a young man who was killed in 2009 by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale district station of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in Oakland.” This was Ryan Coogler’s directorial debut and starred Michael B. Jordan, who of course went on to also be in Coogler’s Black Panther. Jordan was great in this & I always like this sort of approach to telling a story, especially a true one (showing a simple day-in-the-life of the person). The movie follows Grant on his final day, leading up to the fatal shooting. It obviously gets tense as it leads up to what you know is going to happen so it’s of course not an easy watch (which is why I admittedly don’t watch true stories often – I want movies to provide escapism from how shitty the world can be). But it’s a good & important film. – 7.5/10

The Wraith – I’m always a little shocked when I discover the existence of an ’80s movie that I somehow never saw. This 1986 film showed up on Amazon Prime UK so I had to give it a watch (even though it stars Charlie Sheen. Ew.). But I loved the sound of it from the plot. From Wikipedia: “The Wraith tells the story of an Arizona teen who mysteriously returns from the dead as a supernatural street-racer driving an invulnerable supercar. His intent is to take revenge on the gang who murdered him.” That sounds weird as shit & right up my alley.

The movie is fun & kind of what I expected, although it could’ve been a little cooler. Not sure how, but it obviously didn’t quite make it to cult level status although it had that potential. I think it needed to be a little more bizarre. For a weird plot synopsis, the movie itself wasn’t weird enough. Plus Sheen was a bit dull – maybe this would be a cult film now had it starred someone else? Hell, his brother Emilio would’ve been much better. Which made me think that I really want to watch Repo Man again, as I don’t remember much now but love Harry Dean Stanton.

This is another thing I love about discovering ’80s movies I never saw: I love spotting so many actors I liked, especially if they’re obscure actors I recognise from other ’80s films. Two not-so-obscure ones in The Wraith but it was great seeing Randy Quaid and Clint Howard (this was a big role for him! He’s usually not much more than a cameo). Anyway – it’s a fun movie but it could’ve been better. I want to give it a higher rating than this. I’d probably like it more if it had been one I’d managed to see when I was a teenager. – 6.5/10

The Wolverine – Wait, was this the bad Wolverine movie or the REALLY bad one?? Oh yeah – the really bad one was Origins. And I’d seen that one before, so it’s in the Rewatched section below. I don’t have the energy to write about the X-Men films, which I watched ALL of (other than Logan & Dark Phoenix) during lockdown. Here’s how I feel about X-Men: I know nothing whatsoever about the comics but absolutely loved the first film when it came out. I was a nerd in my mid-20s & it was the first “superhero” thing I really went for. I just liked the concept & thought the characters were great. I even bought some damn toys (including Professor X, as I already loved Patrick Stewart from Star Trek: TNG). Then the second movie was great. Then…. they all went downhill from there. Damn. But I still really like the whole X-Men thing overall so I’m giving even the worst films no lower than a 6/10. I just wish the movies were better as I still love the story & the characters. Maybe I should look into the comics, huh?

Anyway – the reason for rewatching them all was because my daughter showed an interest in seeing them. She’s very into “girl” superheroes at the moment & spends a lot of time drawing them. Two of her favorites are Kitty Pryde & X-23. The other two are Jessica Jones & Kate Bishop, who I know nothing about, but we managed to find a comic series containing both of them & aimed at pre-teens & she absolutely loves it. And she’s gone for the X-Men movies big time, which is interesting as she didn’t go quite so much for the MCU stuff (as she was too young to grow up with those, I guess, so only saw some of the later films & missed out on watching the characters develop). It’s just interesting as I felt the same way in far preferring X-Men to other superhero stuff at the time. I think it’s great that I was able to pass my nerdy X-Men toys onto my daughter 20 years later. 🙂

Oh yeah – was I meant to be reviewing The Wolverine?! It sucked. I only watched it a few months ago & barely remember it already. Yikes. And I think I fell asleep through part of it. But it sucked a bit less than Origins. How did they make such a mess out of movies about such an awesome character twice?! Luckily Logan turned out good (which is too violent for the kid so she’s not seen that one, FYI). – 6/10

X-Men: Apocalypse – Ugh. This one was a mess too. It’s such a mess that I’ve ranked it below The Wolverine. However, I’m not sure which one is actually worse. But I just didn’t go for these “First Class” younger X-Men movies as much. Give me old Patrick Stewart instead! But Michael Fassbender is hot, so… I guess there’s that. What even happened in this one again?! Okay – I think I watched too many X-Men movies in one month. Can’t keep them straight! But that’s the problem with superhero movies, which is why this genre is not truly a favorite of mine: They’re all too similar. Same with the MCU films. At least the MCU films did a better job with the origin stories, which I mostly preferred to the Avengers movies as you get much better character development than you do when too many superheroes are all crammed into a movie together. I wish the X-Men movies had managed to do as good of a job following an overall story arc like the MCU movies did. – 6/10

Dark Places – Oh, look – it’s young Beast from X-Men! Holy shit – I barely remember this movie either. It was only three months ago! My mind has clearly been elsewhere during this pandemic. What’s sad is that I also read this book. From what I remember of the book, this was a faithful adaptation. It just wasn’t my favorite story from Gillian Flynn. Flynn also wrote Gone Girl, which was a very enjoyable book (review here). But what I liked even more was her novel Sharp Objects (sort-of review here). That book was fucked up! And the TV adaptation with Amy Adams was decent. Dark Places was okay but meh. The characters are all pretty hateful (but that’s the case with all of Flynn’s books that I’ve read). Here’s the synopsis from IMDb: “Libby Day was only eight years old when her family was brutally murdered in their rural Kansas farmhouse. Almost thirty years later, she reluctantly agrees to revisit the crime and uncovers the wrenching truths that led up to that tragic night.” – 5.5/10

Rewatched:

I discussed how I feel about X-Men above so I’m not going to discuss each film below. The above were first-time-watches for me but I rewatched all of the below movies in May as well.

X-Men – Yay! – 7.5/10

X-Men 2 – Yay too! – 7.5/10

X-Men: First Class – Not bad but prefer the older characters – 7/10

Mulan – I want to like Mulan more than I do. I like the story & her character but the rest of the characters & the film are a bit weak. My daughter was obsessed with this one in May and watched it over & over. I actually badly want to see the live-action film as it looks so damn good from the trailer. And I’m someone who HATES all these horrible live-action versions Disney have been doing. Beauty And The Beast with annoying Emma Watson? Yuck! – 7/10

The Fox And The Hound – I’ve always been fond of this one, as well as The Rescuers, as for some reason I remember both very well from a young age. Not sure how I saw them, as renting movies obviously didn’t exist at that point (god I’m old). With The Rescuers, I think it’s partly due to having a book of it as a little kid as well as a View-Master reel or whatever you called it (goddamn – I really AM old). And I assume I saw it in the cinema on some re-release. I’ll have seen The Fox And The Hound on its original release, so I guess I really liked it as I was the right sort of age for it. And I’ve always liked “animal” Disney stories the most. So I rewatched this one with the kid in May (is it obvious that Disney Plus was new to the U.K. at the start of lockdown?! Perfect timing). Anyway, on a rewatch I have to admit that this is certainly one of Disney’s weaker films. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still far better than movies from that horrible mid-90s into early 2000s Disney phase (Sorry, Hercules & Emperor’s New Groove lovers). Tod & Copper are still completely loveable, though. – 7/10

X-Men: Days Of Future Past – Wow – I was harsh in my original review of this (linked). I liked it more the second time around. It’s far better than Apocalypse! – 7/10

X-Men: The Last Stand – Hmm – 6.5/10

SpaceCamp – I remember liking this movie a lot at the time (1986) but hadn’t seen it in years. Must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the rewatch. I want to give it a higher rating but know that would be due to nostalgia. It’s a VERY ’80s film so may seem a bit dated now but, for me, that’s a big part of its charm. However, it’s a very fun story for kids so I think any watching it now would still have a lot of fun with it. What was really interesting was seeing Joaquin Phoenix (then Leaf Phoenix) as a young child star again. I still see him that way even now (I was instead a big fan of brother River thanks to Stand By Me) but I think anyone younger watching SpaceCamp now would find it very weird seeing the Joker as this sweet little kid.

Screw it – I’m giving this a score that’s probably half a point more than it deserves. I just still really like this one. And if you have young kids interested in space travel, I’d still recommend this movie. Here’s the synopsis from IMDb: “The young attendees of a space camp find themselves in space for real when their shuttle is accidentally launched into orbit.” And I now see why it failed at the box office, as I just read this at Wikipedia: “The film received mixed reviews and is famous for being a “marketing nightmare,” as it was released less than five months after the Challenger accident of January 28, 1986 (although filming was completed before the disaster occurred). The film performed poorly at the box office, grossing less than $10 million in the US. The script was later adapted into a novel, which did include references to the Challenger explosion and some of the kids’ decisions to attend Space Camp in the wake of said tragedy.” FYI: SpaceCamp stars Kate Capshaw, Lea Thompson, Kelly Preston (R.I.P. – still in shock at her recent death), Larry B. Scott, Leaf Phoenix, Tate Donovan & Tom Skerritt – 7/10

Mannequin – Cheesy as fuck but I’m an ’80s kid so of course I still appreciate this stupid movie. – 6.5/10

National Treasure – Decided to rewatch this with the kid as remember liking it the first time around. It was still enjoyable but more boring than I’d remembered. Honestly, there’s too much in the way of boring American history in this film. America – Fuck Yeah! I imagine this movie didn’t do as well outside the U.S. Sorry, it probably doesn’t help that History was always one of my least favorite subjects. I prefer sci-fi & the future to humanity’s horrible past. I also thought this movie had more of an Indiana Jones vibe to it but it’s really just Indiana Jones if he wasn’t sexy as hell and if he tried to teach you a little too much about history along the way instead of just melting the baddies’ faces off. – 6.5/10

You’ve Got Mail – This movie is cute and I still like the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan combo but this is the worst of the films they did together. Tom Hanks’ character is also kind of a dick in this one. Tom Hanks can’t be a dick! No, it just doesn’t work. But this is still worth watching if you like these old rom-coms which rarely get made anymore. Why did that stop?! It’s admittedly not my favorite genre but the movies were enjoyable & inoffensive and had some great stars. Just be sure to watch Sleepless In Seattle first as it’s much better. But their best one by far is the quirky Joe Versus The Volcano (which I realise won’t be everyone’s cup of tea). Apparently they also did a movie called Ithaca together in 2016 but I don’t know a thing about that one (I see it was directed by Ryan, though – I’d like to see that now). – 6.5/10

X-Men Origins: Wolverine – God this one is bad. It deserves a much lower rating but I just can’t help but still like the whole X-Men thing… – 6/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

MUSIC & BOOKS

Nothing “new” to mention here. I’ve just been listening to my usual Apple playlist A LOT lately (it’s one of the best things about working from home: music all day long). One thing I’ll say is that I’ve really been enjoying all the Jóhann Jóhannsson soundtrack stuff that keeps popping up on my playlist while I’m working (particularly the Mandy score). What a loss to the filmmaking world – he did fantastic scores.

I also continued reading Frank Herbert’s Dune throughout May (finishing in June).

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Golden Girls – As I said in my April roundup post, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this on Channel 5 during my lunch breaks. I’m really missing it! Now I just work through lunch some of the time. Bring The Golden Girls back!!!

– As I also mentioned, the UK finally got Disney Plus (in April?), so a lot of time was spent watching Disney stuff those first few months. I especially enjoyed watching all the Silly Symphonies with my daughter. Man, I spent a small fortune many years ago trying to buy all those up when they were released in fancy metal tins. Love them. I especially liked the one that introduced Donald Duck as a character. We also enjoyed Pixar In Real Life, some of which are fun & some a bit meh. I swear no one in the Brave episode knew who the hell Merida was & people didn’t seem to catch on to the Up stuff either. Wow – I’d instantly recognise all Disney & Pixar references in real life. And all the Disney & Pixar shorts are great. Where The Golden Girls stopped showing during my lunch breaks, I still sometimes stick on a Disney or Pixar short to watch with the kid during lunch now. She also really liked the Forky Asks A Question shorts. I find Forky a bit annoying, though. Can only take him in small doses, so the shorts are just the right length.

– We did enjoy watching the Andrew Lloyd Webber stuff they showed on Friday nights during the start of lockdown. Very cool that they did that. Can’t say I loved all of them, though. I just have no class. My favorite was probably Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat but we stopped watching The Phantom of the Opera out of boredom. Sorry. See? No class! Jesus Christ Superstar was also disappointing, as I really like the 1973 film. We’ll watch the film version next Easter instead…

– Finally, I started catching up on the latest season of Grey’s Anatomy in May. God that show annoys me. But I can’t quit watching after so many years! And they had the dumbest “write-off” of a character yet with Alex Karev. WTF was that?! Dumb as hell. That was more stupid than when the guy who played George clearly pissed them off on the show so they had his character get hit by a bus & end up in the hospital completely unrecognisable so that they didn’t even need the actor to film that final episode where they kill him off. Haha. So petty.

BLOG PLANS FOR AUGUST

Well, I’ve managed to do my roundup posts up to May now. Didn’t think I’d manage as don’t feel like writing lately. So I guess I’ll try to post June & July as well.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Haven’t bothered with this section as not much is really coming out to see. Plus, I won’t be going to a cinema again for a very, very long time. Feel bad about that as, obviously, movies are my main hobby & I was a regular customer before the pandemic. But I don’t have the money now plus I don’t think it’s safe. Luckily no one reads this blog anyway. 🙂 But the only reviews that ever get any hits are the ones for current releases and I won’t be seeing many of those now.

As for films that were meant to come out in 2020, these are the only ones I badly want to see:

Bill & Ted Face The Music – I NEED to see this. I’m a big Bill & Ted fan (the whole family are big fans) but it was just announced that it will be a cinema-only release in the UK. Extremely unimpressed at that. Why can’t it be video on demand here as well?!?! This has been my most anticipated movie since the second it was announced. Now we have no clue when we’ll be able to safely see it in the UK plus it’s released an entire month after America gets it anyway. So, yay – the whole movie will have been spoiled by then. Just like how The Mandalorian was spoiled for us. Great.

Mulan – At least it’s looks like the UK might get a chance to see this one? Who knows, though – we still get screwed over on later releases for some of the Disney Plus stuff too.

Top Gun: Maverick – I admit it – I love Top Gun. I was really looking forward to this.

Dune – Well, I finally read the book! I mainly want to see this, though, as Denis Villeneuve is my favorite newer filmmaker.

As I mentioned the great Jóhann Jóhannsson above, here’s something of his from the Mandy score:

My IMDb Top 250 Movies Watched In 2019

Welcome to Day 2 of my 2019 top ten lists that I’ll be posting all week.

I watched more films in the IMDb Top 250 in 2019 than I was planning, so I’m glad I’ve now worked through seeing 65 more of the 250 since starting my IMDb Top 250 Project in 2013. I think I only have about 36 left to watch now (if I’ve counted correctly). Not too bad!

I won’t have time to review any of the below in full like I was hoping but I’ve included the links to my original posts where I talked a tiny bit about each of them (some more than others). They really do deserve full reviews someday, especially the fantastic top four. There are also two I hated (the bottom two), which doesn’t happen often with the Top 250 films.

Here are My Top Ten (okay, actually 12) IMDb Top 250 Movies That I Watched In 2019 (from least favorite to favorite):

12. The Grand Budapest Hotel – 5/10

11. Oldboy (2003) – 5/10

10. 3 Idiots – 7/10

9. The Wild Bunch – 7/10

8. The Killing – 7/10

7. Touch Of Evil – 7/10

6. The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups) – 7.5/10

5. The Hunt (Jagten) – 7.5/10

4. In The Heat Of The Night – 7.5/10

3. Infernal Affairs (Mou gaan dou) – 7.5/10

2. Ip Man – 8/10

1. Yojimbo – 8/10

These are the Top Ten lists I’ll be posting this week:

My Top Ten Books Read In 2019 (yesterday)
My Top Anime Movies Watched In 2019 (earlier today)
My IMDb Top 250 Movies Watched In 2019
My 2019 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked
My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2019
My Top Ten 2019 Movie Releases
My Top Ten Movies Of The Decade (2010-2019)

City Of God (Cidade de Deus) (2002) Review For The Luso World Cinema Blogathon

I’m taking part in the Luso World Cinema Blogathon hosted by Crítica Retrô and Spellbound By Movies. You can read all about the blogathon HERE & HERE. Thanks for letting me participate! I look forward to reading all the entries. 🙂

My entry is a review of the 2002 Portuguese language film City Of God, which was nominated for four Oscars and is currently ranked 22nd in the IMDb Top 250. I originally watched & reviewed this as part of my IMDb Top 250 Project and as a Resolutions 2014 film as I’d been meaning to make the time to watch it. I admit that my knowledge is very limited when it comes to Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking countries) films. So I’m very interested in reading the other entries as I do try to explore all types of cinema. But, yeah – I had to use the Keanu Reeves banner. Who doesn’t love Keanu!!

Here’s my uneducated review of City Of God. I’m sure I don’t do it justice but it is a really good film.

City Of God (2002)
Portuguese: Cidade de Deus

Directed by Fernando Meirelles & Kátia Lund (co-director)

Based on City of God by Paulo Lins

Starring: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino da Hora, Phellipe Haagensen, Douglas Silva, Alice Braga, Jonathan Haagensen, Matheus Nachtergaele, Seu Jorge

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
City of God (Portuguese: Cidade de Deus) is a 2002 Brazilian crime drama film adapted by Bráulio Mantovani from the 1997 novel of the same name written by Paulo Lins, but the plot is loosely based on real events. It depicts the growth of organized crime in the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio de Janeiro, between the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1980s, with the closure of the film depicting the war between the drug dealer Li’l Zé and criminal Knockout Ned. The tagline is “If you run, the beast catches; if you stay, the beast eats”, (a proverb analogous to the English “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”).

My Opinion:

I’d been curious about this movie for a long time as it’s SO high in the IMDB Top 250 films of all-time (it’s currently number 22). I’ve been working my way through the 250 since starting my blog as I have a challenge to try to watch them all and this was the second highest ranking film I’d not yet seen.

It’s good, yes. I liked it. Does it deserve to be above things like Once Upon A Time In The West & It’s A Wonderful Life? I’m not sure about that. It’s definitely a fascinating look at a lifestyle that I (luckily) can’t really relate to as someone from a very small town in the American Midwest. I know this is “loosely based on real events” but haven’t looked into it enough to know what is fact and what isn’t. Either way, it’s awful knowing that people have had to live this way and terrifying to see the ease with which some of the characters in this engage in violent activity and don’t think twice about taking someone’s life.

I will say that I can partly see why this film is so popular, even though it’s not really my kind of thing. There are some great characters in this. The lead & narrator, Rocket (above), is the one truly “good guy” in a film filled with people who seem to have no conscience and you really do want the best for him. His friend Benny is very cool – he’s the guy everyone likes and he helps to keep the peace a bit between the two main rival gangs who are controlling the area. I love that this takes place during the late 60s into the early 80s & Benny adopts a groovy 70’s look. Then there’s Knockout Ned, a great character I’d love to have seen be a bit further developed (although he’s more well-developed than most of the characters in this) and the truly amoral Li’l Zé, who is the most powerful criminal in the area.

What’s amazing is I read that only one person in this was a professional experienced actor and the majority were people from “favelas” (shanty towns) and some from the actual City Of God who were chosen and then trained in acting as the director wanted the film to feel authentic. I’ll say that it definitely worked and the “actors” in this did an excellent job. I felt bad after giving Slumdog Millionaire a horrible review & then finding out some of those in it were from real-life slums (turns out it was the kids, who were the only good thing about that film anyway). Fortunately, City Of God is a much better film than Slumdog Millionaire and feels very real whereas Millionaire felt like it was trying too hard and just felt phoney to me (sorry, fans!).

I’ve just scratched the surface on the characters as there are LOTS of them in this film but those are some of the main ones & the most memorable. But as there are so many, we unfortunately don’t get as much character development as I’d like to have had. Why do they do the things that they do? I suppose it’s because they don’t have much other choice. But then why does Rocket manage to remain a “good guy”? We’re given a reason for Knockout Ned making the choices he makes but not really for why Li’l Zé is so evil. But, as I’ve said, it really isn’t a lifestyle I have any sort of experience with so I can’t comment on it too much. This is sort of the Boyz N The Hood of Rio de Janeiro. I think that’s a great film as well but, again, I couldn’t fully relate to it. But both films are certainly worth a watch to gain at least a small understanding of what it’s like for those who have no choice but to live a life surrounded by poverty and/or violence and to be grateful for the lives so many of us are fortunate to have outside of that.

Was City Of God a worthy watch? Yes – I’m glad I finally watched it. It won’t become an all-time favorite of mine like some of the IMDB Top 250 films I’ve watched in the last few years already have but I’d recommend it to anyone who thinks that it sounds like their sort of film. The performances are very good & the movie isn’t preachy – it just shows us the poor & violent lives led by those living in & around the City Of God from the late 60s to the early 80s.

My Rating: 8/10

Metropolis (1927) Blind Spot Review

Metropolis (1927)

Directed by Fritz Lang

Based on Metropolis (1925 novel) by Thea von Harbou

Starring: Alfred Abel, Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 89 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

My Opinion:

First, these are the 2018 Blind Spot films I managed to watch this year, from my least favorite to favorite:

8. Tetsuo: The Iron Man
7. Atonement
6. Gleaming The Cube
5. The French Connection
4. Citizen Kane
3. Splendor In The Grass
2. Metropolis
1. Enter The Dragon

Well, I didn’t manage to watch my 12 Blind Spot choices this year as life got too busy but at least I watched eight. Better than nothing! And five of them were well worth the time and definitely worthy Blind Spot picks. The best was indeed Metropolis, which I’ve weirdly been putting off seeing for years despite loving the look of it and liking plenty of silent films. I watched it months ago but also put off reviewing it as it’s one of those where I don’t feel I have enough knowledge to do it any sort of justice. What can I say about it that hasn’t been said? It’s a brilliant, gorgeous film and so eerily ahead of its time. Oh, and yes I loved Enter The Dragon so I have it at number one in the above list. Of course Metropolis is the superior film but I always rank according to what I enjoyed the most and I had more fun with Enter The Dragon. I also absolutely adored Splendor In The Grass and did have that at number two until now as it moved me in a way that Metropolis didn’t but putting Metropolis below it just didn’t seem right as it’s a damn masterpiece. But I may change my mind & switch the order again. I’m like that. (I’ll try to review Splendor In The Grass tomorrow)

Metropolis of course also counts as part of my IMDb Top 250 Project. As I started that in 2013, I’m still working off that list. It breaks my heart to see old films slowly being knocked off that list & replaced with modern ones. Since 2013, Metropolis has dropped from 89 to 110. I just looked now to see what’s higher and got thoroughly annoyed at six Christopher Nolan movies having higher ratings than Metropolis. No way! Am I seriously the only person who thinks Nolan is massively overrated? I’ve only truly liked one of his movies (The Prestige). And Avengers: Infinity War is a fun film but it sure as shit isn’t Top 250 material. Okay – I’ll shut the hell up since I’ve ranked Enter The Dragon above Metropolis so I guess people just like what they like.

What I find interesting is that Fritz Lang’s film M, which I reviewed HERE, is actually higher in the list than Metropolis. Although it’s also a visual masterpiece and a brilliant example of filmmaking done right, I don’t think it’s the better film of the two. I can see why it’s higher, though, as it’s a more “accessible” film for a modern audience. It’s not silent, which I know puts some people off. It’s also a fantastic crime thriller, which is a genre with lots of fans. It’s a genre I rarely like, though. Give me sci-fi and fantasy. Metropolis is right up my alley but I can fully understand why some would find it overlong and probably even boring, although that makes me a little sad. I mean, look at these amazing images! Look! WOW. This is from 1927! Did this not blow people’s minds back then?? It must have. Although, in reading about it, it had some very negative reviews at the time.

The most negative review I saw on Wikipedia was from H.G. Wells, “who accused it of “foolishness, cliché, platitude, and muddlement about mechanical progress and progress in general.” He faulted Metropolis for its premise that automation created drudgery rather than relieving it, wondered who was buying the machines’ output if not the workers, and found parts of the story derivative of Shelley’s Frankenstein.” A lot of reviewers at the time called the story silly & simplistic. I think it has stood the test of time pretty well, especially considering how long ago it was made, but it’s not as scarily prophetic as some later sci-fi films exploring similar themes and ideas involving the future of mankind. There’s still a huge divide between the rich and the poor but our world looks very different from Lang’s vision and he never could have predicted today’s technology and the way in which it controls us mentally more than physically. We’re living in a dystopian future as predicted but it’s a very different dystopia than Lang predicted. So, while this film is stunningly beautiful, I can’t say I connected with it quite as much as some other sci-fi classics when it came to the overall story.

Before I end this so called review, I figured I should also mention The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari as it’s another example of German Expressionism in film. That’s two silent German Expressionist movies I’ve seen! I’m, like, an expert now! Okay – I have zero knowledge on this topic. All I know is that it looks cool as shit and I could spend all day looking at the type of imagery used in these two films. It’s stark and haunting and a little bit creepy and I love it. I like my art a little bit creepy (H.R. Giger is the best). So, again, this is my type of thing but won’t be to everyone’s taste. I admit to being a sucker for great visuals in a film. Give me great imagery & cinematography and I’m happy. Add a beautiful score as well and I’m over the damn moon, such as in a Sergio Leone/Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western. That’s epic filmmaking. That’s the type of thing I expect when I think “Top 250 Films Of All Time”. Metropolis is iconic, beautiful, and epic. To me, at least. To others, it’s probably boring as shit. Story-wise, it’s not perfect. It’s a little bit messy and I can see how those at the time probably found it pretentious. Would I stick a Metropolis poster up in my cinema room (if I was rich & had such a thing)? Hell Yeah! The film is a work of art. Is it a new all-time favorite film of mine? No, I’ll admit it’s not. If I’m honest, I’ll put Splendor In The Grass just above it on my list. I enjoyed it more. I told you I’d probably change my mind! But nothing can top the artistry of Metropolis.

My Rating: 8.5/10

The King’s Speech (2010) IMDB Top 250 Review

The King’s Speech (2010)

Directed by Tom Hooper

Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall, Derek Jacobi, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Gambon

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 160 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The story of King George VI, his impromptu ascension to the throne of the British Empire in 1936, and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch overcome his stammer.

My Opinion:

Happy Boxing Day! I love this day. I prefer this day to Christmas Day. Far less stressful! Which is why I’ve decided to do a mega quick & lazy review of The King’s Speech, which was one of only three movies I managed to watch for my IMDb Top 250 Project in 2018. I’m seriously slacking on that! (The other two were Citizen Kane & Metropolis, which I’ll review tomorrow).

I didn’t get around to this review as I don’t have much to say about this movie. I hate that. I mean, it’s a good film but I find my reviews only get wordy when I really love or really hate a film (I ramble on for ages when I really hate something). Too many films are somewhere in between: Enjoyable enough while watching them but somewhat forgettable. The King’s Speech is like that. And it won Best Picture at the Oscars! Hmm. Here’s what it beat:

127 Hours (not seen it – there’s that arm bit – ew)
Black Swan (certainly more memorable than The King’s Speech)
The Fighter (meh)
Inception (Nolan is overrated)
The Kids Are All Right (meh)
The Social Network (decent film but also meh)
Toy Story 3 (yeah, I prefer this to The King’s Speech)
True Grit (not seen it)
Winter’s Bone (meh)

Okay – it looks like it was a weak year for films. Now I’m wondering what wasn’t nominated at all that may have been better than these (I’m too lazy to bother looking into that).

I remember that I watched this just after watching Darkest Hour so it was interesting seeing that same time period in English history. Movies are the only way I gain any knowledge of history – I have such a Hollywood version of world history in my head. Pathetic, I know. What can I say? I prefer sci-fi & fantasy. I remember thinking Timothy Spall made for a terrible Winston Churchill in this compared to Gary Oldman’s brilliant performance. Not that it matters – it was a very small part since this movie is about King George VI. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter were all truly fantastic in their roles. That’s why it won Best Picture. Those Academy voters love historical dramas with English accents. Well, Rush isn’t English but Americans can’t tell the difference anyway…

Colin Firth won Best Actor for this, which I think was fair enough. He’s very good in this but I find him rather boring. He plays this stuffy sort of role so often (which is why I guess it was kind of fun seeing him in Kingsman: The Secret Service). I really enjoyed Helena Bonham Carter’s performance and think she deserved an Oscar as well instead of Melissa Leo in The Fighter. Hell, I don’t even remember Leo’s performance – I only remember her swearing in her acceptance speech. To be fair, Bonham Carter plays these stuffy sort of roles more often than Firth but I don’t find her boring. She’s damn good. I’ve never considered myself a fan but I think she always gives a great performance. Maybe I am a fan?? I’ve not watched her stuffiest stuff, though. Maybe I should check out some of that Merchant Ivory shit?? As for Geoffrey Rush, he’s fantastic in this too and also deserved an Oscar (instead of Christian Bale in The Fighter – I hate Bale). But I think Geoffrey Rush is the latest celeb in trouble for some sex stuff from the past so I’ll say no more. At this rate, I’ll have to delete half my blog if I have to get rid of any mention of certain actors…

I said I’d keep this short. The King’s Speech is a good film with fantastic performances. It’s one of those “one-time watch” movies, though. I’m glad I’ve seen it and I did actually enjoy it but I can’t imagine ever watching it again for any reason. It’s certainly weak compared to all the other Best Picture winners & nominees in the history of the Oscars. It’s certainly not the worst, though (I’m looking at you, The English F*%king Patient!). Since I’m a sad & pathetic list maniac, I did rank every Best Picture Oscar Winner I’ve seen HERE and I’ve now added The King’s Speech. It’s toward the bottom but I did enjoy it. I feel like I’m being too harsh on this one! It’s just not all-time classic “Best Picture” material. Or IMDb Top 250 material, which is why I think this has actually now dropped out of that list (I started this project in 2013 so I’m still working off the list from that time).

My Rating: 7/10

Citizen Kane (1941) Blind Spot Review

Citizen Kane (1941)

IMDb Top 250 Rank: 44 out of 250 as of 01/01/2013

Directed by Orson Welles

Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Everett Sloane, Ray Collins, George Coulouris, Agnes Moorehead, Paul Stewart, Ruth Warrick, Erskine Sanford, William Alland

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.

My Opinion:

These are the 2018 Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far, from my least favorite to favorite:

5. Atonement
4. Gleaming The Cube
3. The French Connection
2. Citizen Kane
1. Enter The Dragon

Watching Citizen Kane means that I also get to tick another film off the list of the IMDb Top 250 that I hadn’t yet seen when I started this blog. It’s ranked very high (although it has now dropped to 71 out of 250). It’s often considered the greatest film of all time by those smart film critic types. It was pathetic that I’m a so-called “movie blogger” but had never seen one of the most revered classics of all time (which is why I finally put it on my Blind Spot list). Well, I’ve seen it now….

Damn. This is one of those times that I really don’t feel like doing a review. I’m not a film student. Yes, Citizen Kane is a great film and I know that a lot of that will have to do with filmmaking techniques that I know nothing about since I’m an uneducated heathen who likes movies but is usually happier when watching Star Wars instead of On The Waterfront. Speaking of which, I had a hell of a time while trying to “review” that Top 250 classic as well. Actually, I’ve just re-read what I wrote about On The Waterfront and I had more to say than I remembered. Can I just copy & paste that review here as a lot of it applies to Citizen Kane too??

No, that’s not quite true. I liked Citizen Kane much more but I just didn’t quite connect with either film. I’ve discovered with these worthy classics that I far prefer the grand, sweeping epics to the gritty dramas with Oscar-winning acting. Give me a gorgeous Sergio Leone film with a Morricone score instead of Brando & his pigeons. Citizen Kane is somewhere in the middle – it has the gritty drama but it’s also epic in its telling of this character’s life story. I love a story spanning an entire lifetime and I did enjoy this movie. It’s a great film. It’s a classic. But I didn’t connect with it as much as I was hoping I would. I’m sorry! Okay – I’ve actually just taken a break to add images into this post. Wow. They’re stunning. Those are some great shots! They remind me of Fritz Lang’s M, another great film. Is that why this movie is so popular? Huh. Yeah, I admit it – I should probably watch this movie again. Someday. Maybe it’ll grow on me.

I briefly discussed Citizen Kane with a friend and how I really didn’t feel like reviewing it. Believe it or not, I’m a person of few words in real life and, when talking about a movie, I’ll often just say “Yeah, it was good” or “It sucked!”. Citizen Kane got three sentences out of me & my friend pointed out that it worked as a haiku.

So here’s my haiku review of Citizen Kane (complete with the ***BIG HUGE SPOILER*** that everyone knows about this movie by now if they are the slightest bit interested in films):

I was a bit bored.
I have no culture. I knew
it was the damn sled.

Then I added another that works out slightly better in haiku form:

Enter The Dragon
Was a much better Blind Spot
Damn that stupid sled

By the way, Enter The Dragon was f*%king awesome! I’ll review that next month and will maybe put a tiny bit of effort into that post. Maybe. For now, here’s my rating for Citizen Kane. It deserves much higher.

My Rating: 7.5/10

**Okay – since this was one of my worst attempts at a review EVER (although I’ve certainly had worse), here are links to bloggers I follow who have written about Citizen Kane. I couldn’t find many! If you’ve reviewed the movie, let me know and I’ll happily add you to the below list.

100 Films In A Year

Hard Ticket To Home Video

Isaacs Picture Conclusions

Keith & The Movies

MovieRob

Rhyme & Reason

Thomas J

My 2018 Blind Spot Choices & Blog Resolutions

Well, it’s Year 6 of my blog & Year 3 of me doing this Blind Spot Project where we make ourselves watch 12 movies in a year that we’ve been meaning to watch for ages. Most people choose classics but I like to mix it up with some random shit as well since watching 12 “worthy classics” sounds like a drag. Besides, I have my IMDB Top 250 Challenge for the boring stuff!

Having said that, though, I’ve chosen far too many worthy films this year (some of which will also double up with the IMDB Top 250 thing). Other than the below Christian Slater movie… Sorry – there’s no longer any excuse for me having never seen a movie starring one of my teenage crushes in my favorite movie decade (I’m sure it’s not great). I have to admit that I’m not overly excited about a lot that are on this list, though. Hopefully I’ll feel differently at the end of 2018 since they’re obviously critically acclaimed for a reason. And, again, I have several “alternate” choices due to possible lack of availability and/or time and/or depending on what the hubby will let me watch without him.

So here are My 2018 Blind Spot Choices:

The French Connection

Citizen Kane

Midnight Express

Enter The Dragon

Gandhi

Atonement

Fiddler On The Roof

Quadrophenia

Metropolis

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Gleaming The Cube

The Gold Rush

Alternates:

El Topo
Tetsuo
Solaris (1972)
Once Upon A Time In America
The Right Stuff
Lawrence Of Arabia
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
Paprika

2018 Blog Resolutions:

I already covered this on my big five-year blogiversary post but my “blog resolutions” are simple this year: To reduce the time I spend on this blog.

As much as I enjoy this online movie diary, I really need to focus on other stuff going on in my life. I’ll still log everything I watch in 2018 & do “month-in-review” posts where I’ll briefly discuss what I saw & read each month.

Here’s what I’ll still be posting:

Blind Spot Movie Reviews: One each month, probably toward the end of the month.

Reviews of 2018 UK cinema releases: I’ll still try to review all the current films that I watch since this is what people are most interested in discussing.

Monthly Recap Posts At The End Of Each Month: To briefly discuss everything that I watched & read each month.

Other than that, I’ll sometimes post reviews of movies I watch at home if I can be bothered or if they’re in the IMDb Top 250 or if one is so fantastic that I absolutely MUST tell you all about it! 😉 And, maybe once in a blue moon, I’ll
post a Top Ten list. People seem to enjoy them but I’m burnt out & need a break from them.

That’s it! I won’t completely abandon this place and I’ll still be on Twitter (it’s far less time-consuming but also full of angry people who stress me out). I wish you all a wonderful 2018!

Last week I posted all my 2017 Year-End Lists:

IMDB Top 250 Challenge Update: Only 50 Left To Go

My 2017 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked

My Top Ten Books Read In 2017

My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2017

My Top Ten Movies Of 2017

IMDB Top 250 Challenge Update: Only 50 Left To Go

Happy New Year, everyone! 🙂 I figured it was time to have a look at how well I’m doing on my IMDB Top 250 Challenge.

I started this project on the 1st of January 2013 having already seen 150 of the 250 movies in the Top 250 IMDb list at that time. My goal was to watch the remaining 100. I’ve been taking my time but, five years later, I’ve managed to watch 50. Only 50 left to go!

I’ve enjoyed this project & it’s been worth doing as it has “forced” me to finally watch some true classics. So I figured I’d do a list of the 50 that I’ve watched.

So here are My IMDB Top 250 Project Movies Watched So Far (Ranked From Least Favorite To Very Favorite): (and I rated them all, too! What a loser…)

50-41:

50. Mary And Max – watched 7/6/13 – Rating: 4/10

49. Slumdog Millionaire – watched 28/4/13 – Rating: 5/10

48. Life Of Pi – watched 15/1/13 – Rating: 6.5/10

47. Manhattan – watched 15/10/16 – Rating: 6.5/10

46. Warrior – watched 22/8/15 – Rating: 6/10

45. A Separation – watched 9/8/14 – Rating: 6.5/10

44. The Night Of The Hunter – watched 15/8/17 – Rating: 6.5/10

43. On The Waterfront – watched 9/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

42. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? – watched 24/3/13 – Rating: 7/10

41. Paths Of Glory – watched 22/8/15 – Rating: 6.5/10

Top Forty:

40. Raging Bull – watched 29/9/13 – Rating: 7/10

39. Unforgiven – watched 17/8/14 – Rating: 6.5/10

38. Dog Day Afternoon – watched 18/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

37. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid – watched 26/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

36. Anatomy Of A Murder – watched 2/8/15 – Rating: 7/10

35. Witness For The Prosecution – watched 12/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

34. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – watched 9/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

33. Roman Holiday – watched 5/12/17 – Rating: 7/10

32. A Fistful Of Dollars – watched 28/4/16 – Rating: 7/10

31. Sleuth – watched 5/2/13 – Rating: 7/10

Top Thirty:

30. City Of God – watched 18/1/14 – Rating: 8/10

29. Bicycle Thieves – watched 5/6/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

28. Rashômon – watched 16/8/14 – Rating: 7/10

27. Shadow Of A Doubt – watched 5/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

26. Notorious – watched 6/5/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

25. Sunset Boulevard – watched 7/11/15 – Rating: 7.5/10

24. For A Few Dollars More – watched 14/5/16 – Rating: 7.5/10

23. Some Like It Hot – watched 2/12/17 – Rating: 7.5/10

22. Rope – watched 4/1/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

21. The Hustler – watched 7/1/17 – Rating: 8/10

Top Twenty:

20. Nosferatu (1922) – watched 14/7/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

19. M – watched 26/9/15 – Rating: 7.5/10

18. Once Upon A Time In The West – watched 02/07/13 – Rating: 8/10

17. Full Metal Jacket – watched 11/5/14 – Rating: 8/10

16. Million Dollar Baby – watched 11/2/17 – Rating: 8/10

15. Howl’s Moving Castle (Hauru no ugoku shiro) – watched 14/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

14. Ikiru – watched 1/1/16 – Rating: 8/10

13. The Untouchables – watched 16/8/17 – Rating: 8/10

12. The Secret In Their Eyes – watched 23/3/13 – Rating: 8/10

11. The Kid – watched 19/2/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

Top Ten:

10. Grave Of The Fireflies (Hotaru no haka) – watched 1/1/15 – Rating: 8/10

9. The Great Escape – watched 28/10/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

8. Laputa: Castle In The Sky – watched 7/3/13 – Rating: 8/10

7. Rocky – watched 12/2/17 – Rating: 8.5/10

6. Modern Times – watched 1/1/13 – Rating: 9/10

5. Princess Mononoke – watched 25/1/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

4. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly – watched 16/2/16 – Rating: 8/10

3. The Bridge On The River Kwai – watched 23/6/13 – Rating: 9/10

2. City Lights – watched 15/2/13 – Rating: 9/10

1. Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind (Kaze no tani no Naushika) – watched 2/11/14 – Rating: 9/10

See you tomorrow with my ranked list of the 12 Blind Spot movies I watched in 2017.

Rocky (1976) Blind Spot Review

Happy Birthday to Sylvester Stallone, who turns 71 today! Guess I better review Rocky, which I’ve finally watched for Blind Spot 2017. Finally, right?!

Rocky (1976)

Directed by John G. Avildsen

Written by Sylvester Stallone

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith

Music by Bill Conti

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer, gets a supremely rare chance to fight heavy-weight champion Apollo Creed in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of the Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far this year, from my least favorite to my favorite:

8. The Last Temptation Of Christ
7. The Raid
6. The King & I
5. The Hustler
4. Ghost In The Shell
3. Jackie Brown
2. Watership Down
1. Rocky

So, yeah – I liked Rocky the most (so far). It’s one of those movies that’s so iconic & has been spoofed so often that it felt like I’d seen it already anyway. I suppose that’s why it’s taken me so long to finally get around to watching the whole thing. I’ve seen bits & pieces of it over the years and knew the ending. It was definitely worth sitting down to finally watch it from start to finish, though. About damn time, right?!

Watching Rocky also means I can add another movie seen to my IMDB Top 250 Project (It’s currently at number 218. WTF? Too low). Yay! Another one crossed off my list (I’m never gonna finish watching those 250). Oh, and I can add it to my list of My Top Ten Best Picture Oscar Winners! Okay – I’ve just updated that post so you can go have a look to see where I’ve placed Rocky. Nah, screw getting extra views – I’ve put it at number six. It’s good. It’s worthy of its status. I’m glad it won Best Picture. What did it beat? *Googling now*… All The President’s Men (not seen it), Bound For Glory (wtf is that?), Network (okay but Rocky is better), and Taxi Driver (erm, like Rocky I feel like I’ve seen it but don’t think I’ve ever seen it all the way through. Rocky is better anyway).

Should I get around to reviewing Rocky? I’ll be honest – I don’t really want to. It’s been around forever and has such loyal, diehard fans that you should really just go read reviews done by those who have a strong personal connection to this character and the film’s themes (like Eric of The IPC – this is his review). As the plot synopsis above says, this film is all about “going the distance” and believing in yourself and all that feelgood hoohah that so many movies attempt but very few manage to achieve without feeling phony & contrived. Rocky is genuine.

I was quite surprised when looking Rocky up at IMDB for this review to see that it has quite a low “metascore” (that’s the rating from “professional critics”). This is where professional critics piss me off. How miserable do you have to be in life to not at least be slightly moved by one of the best feelgood movies out there? Admittedly, Rocky is going to feel somewhat dated in its themes nowadays as sooooo many movies have tried to do similar since. But this came out in 1976 and there hadn’t yet really been any movies quite like it (that I can think of, anyway, but I’m probably wrong because I often am). It seems like uplifting, feelgood movies often get slammed by critics. Who wants dreary & depressing all the time?! Just because a movie is depressing, it doesn’t always make it good. And just because a movie is uplifting, it doesn’t always make it bad. Yeah, I’m also one of those lovers of feelgood galore The Shawshank Redemption. It makes me happy. And that’s okay, professional critics! It’s okay to be moved by a film because it makes you feel good! I happen to think that truly good filmmaking is the ability to make an audience love your film because they connect so deeply with your characters and/or your story. I know that Rocky is one of those types of films. Like my Shawshank, I can fully understand why Rocky means so much to some people.

Shit. I’ve still not really talked about Rocky yet in my Rocky “review”. Let’s start by talking about the character of Rocky. Am I a fan of Sylvester Stallone? No, not in the slightest. Is he a good actor? Nope. But that doesn’t matter. As Rocky, he’s perfect. He IS Rocky. I just read this little tidbit at Wikipedia:

“United Artists liked Stallone’s script, and viewed it as a possible vehicle for a well-established star such as Robert Redford, Ryan O’Neal, Burt Reynolds, or James Caan. Stallone appealed to the producers to be given a chance to star in the film. He later said that he would never have forgiven himself if the film became a success with someone else in the lead.”

Seriously?? Those choices would’ve been SO wrong to play Rocky and the movie wouldn’t have achieved so much success without Stallone in the role. I’m glad he fought for the part (and like the fact that the movie itself was an underdog that went on to beat the odds, just like Rocky himself). I think, having written the script, it really shows in Stallone’s performance how the character is a part of him and that we wouldn’t have gotten the same genuine feel from another actor. It’s why Rocky became such a beloved character. I can see why this movie propelled Stallone to fame and why he still has loads of, let’s face it, dude fans. He’ll still never ever be a favorite actor of mine but I certainly have more respect for him now. He makes this movie what it is. So don’t avoid this film if, like me, you don’t necessarily love Stallone.

Also, don’t avoid this movie if you don’t like sports movies or boxing. Yes, those elements are what have made this movie one that has made many manly men freely admit to crying manly man tears over. I f*^king hate sports. All sports. Especially boxing! Rocky isn’t really a sports movie and it has about as much actual boxing in it as British households have on Boxing Day (which is probably a little bit as family get-togethers at Christmastime can be very stressful). Seriously – I decided to torture myself by watching this & Million Dollar Baby over the same weekend back in February. Million Dollar Baby has a million times more boxing in it (but still not loads). However, I ended up loving them both. So, if I can like two “boxing movies” (that aren’t really about boxing), I promise that you can too! And one is a feelgood movie and one is depressing as f*^k but both are good. (But critics probably prefer the depressing one, as I previously bitched about in this review already). Where was I? Rambling, as always. There’s hardly any boxing in Rocky. Just FYI. Who knew??? (But I still don’t like Raging Bull very much. Certainly not a feelgood movie and probably a miserable critic favorite).

Oh! Burgess Meredith! I love Burgess Meredith. He was actually the biggest reason I wanted to finally make myself watch this film. And he’s great in the role of Rocky’s trainer. He’s perfect. I badly want to watch all the Rocky films now (but I’m waiting for hubby to make the time since he says he wants to watch them with me. Hint hint). I’m not stupid and know the rest aren’t meant to be great but I want to see what happens and I’m hoping Meredith has a bigger part in the second film. But….. I’m not sure what happens beyond that (other than finally getting to hear Eye Of The Tiger in, what, number three?). I’ve done my best to avoid the Rocky series spoilers this long but it hasn’t been easy!!! FYI: don’t read the synopsis for Creed if you KNOW NOTHING because I actually didn’t know… Something about someone. Ha. Damn. All I know is that Rocky & Adrian better stay together throughout them all or I’m going to be seriously pissed off (don’t tell me).

You gotta love Rocky & Adrian’s relationship. I loved those two crazy kids and their weird ass romance. It was sweet. And a little nerdy. They’re made for each other. Hollywood nepotism gets on my nerves but these two are such a perfect match that I’ll let that “how many f*^king Coppolas ARE there?!” thing with Talia Shire slide. At least her then-husband didn’t compose the music for the film, as originally planned. Can you imagine having Rocky without Bill Conti’s Gonna Fly Now song? No. You cannot. That song and its montage scene is one of the most iconic moments in movie history. Oh, and Carl Weathers was cool too. I look forward to seeing him in more in this series (He IS in more, right? How many? More than Meredith?? Wait. No. Don’t tell me).

Summary:

Rocky is good. Rocky makes grown men cry for some strange reason. I can’t claim to have gotten at all misty-eyed while watching it and I won’t pretend that I fully connected with it or that it moved me in the way it has moved a lot of (mainly male) viewers. However, it deserves the love it still receives to this day and I can fully understand why some people love it. It’s one that all film lovers should watch at least once if they want to continue calling themselves film lovers. No, it’s not a new all-time favorite of mine personally but I enjoyed it and I especially liked the characters, which is the most important thing to me when it comes to movies. Rocky lives up to its reputation and slightly exceeded my expectations.

My Rating: 8.5/10

*I saw this movie back in February and I’ve only seen it the one time so hopefully all these pictures I used are from the first movie & not the sequels or else some Rocky-loving dude will probably come along & yell at me… 😉

Million Dollar Baby (2004) IMDB Top 250 Review

Happy Birthday to Clint Eastwood, who turns 87 today. This time last year, I did a week of Clint Eastwood reviews (you can see My Top Ten Clint Eastwood Movies HERE, updated to now include Million Dollar Baby).

I still wouldn’t exactly call Eastwood a favorite actor of mine but I’m glad that I finally explored some of his biggest films last year as I liked them a hell of a lot more than I expected to. Million Dollar Baby was still a big omission, however, so I’m glad I’ve finally watched that now as well. And, again, I like another Eastwood movie far more than I was expecting to! And, of course, the awesome Morgan Freeman is in it as well (who I would call a favorite actor & whose birthday is tomorrow – guess what Top Ten List I’ll be doing tomorrow…). 😉 Okay – I’ll shut up & review the movie now.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Based on Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner by F.X. Toole

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel, Mike Colter, Lucia Rijker, Brían F. O’Byrne, Anthony Mackie, Margo Martindale, Riki Lindhome, Michael Peña, Benito Martinez, Grant L. Roberts

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 172 (as of 01/01/13)

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This film is about an underappreciated boxing trainer, the mistakes that haunt him from his past, and his quest for atonement by helping an underdog amateur boxer achieve her dream of becoming a professional.

My Opinion:

I avoided watching this film for years. I was like “It’s a boxing drama? Pass!”. (Kind of funny that I’ve just watched Rocky for the very first time the same week that I watched this. But I digress). Mainly, though, I avoided this because, when it came out, some annoying assholes decided to spoil the whole damn plot. So I’ve always known exactly how this ends. And that pisses me off. I know it’s not always possible to avoid spoilers but, in the case of this film, there was an uproar since what happens went against the beliefs of some people and they felt the need to warn the public (or something like that) before the film had even been fully released (if I remember correctly). Annoying.

Anyway! This is a great film. I expected to possibly find it contrived (films that try too hard to pull on the heartstrings & just come across as phony piss me off as much as people who spoil films). I expected to not be affected by this film since I knew the whole damn plot already. But it’s a good, heartfelt drama that came across as quite genuine and had fantastic actors playing likeable characters you wanted to see succeed. I sure as shit can’t say I exactly “enjoyed” it (holy hell! I don’t do well with serious dramas). But it’s not the overhyped Oscar bait I had kind of feared it might be.

Come to think of it, I guess this means I should also update My Top Ten Best Picture Oscar Winners list at some point with both this & Rocky. That list includes all 50(ish) Best Pictures that I’ve seen and I have to say that both these damn boxing dramas potentially break into my top ten. Easily top 20 for sure. I’ll have to think about it some more! They’re certainly my favorite boxing movies (Raging Bull didn’t thrill me…). 😉

It’s a shame that Hilary Swank kind of disappeared into bad movie obscurity after this & Boys Don’t Cry (a movie that manages to be even more depressing than this one). Clearly these sort of heart wrenching dramas did suit her but you can’t blame her for trying other things – Starring in nothing but these sort of films would probably mess with your head eventually. I really liked her character in this. Her enthusiasm and single-minded determination are infectious in the same sort of way that made us all like Rocky Balboa and to want him to succeed.

Swank & Eastwood make a great team and their relationship by the end of the film is beautiful & heartbreaking. Million Dollar Baby probably gets somewhat ignored compared to Eastwood’s full-on “guy” movies & bromances but, as great as I think he was in dude movies with the likes of Lee Van Cleef, his mentor/protégée and ultimately father/daughter-like relationship here is a welcome change (and just as good & valid as the bromances). Swank & Eastwood make this film.

But there’s still some male camaraderie for anyone needing that as well. Freeman plays Eastwood’s ex-boxer friend (and… co-owner? or maybe just a trainer living in the gym Eastwood owns. feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). Anyway, I love Freeman and he’s as great as always and another reason why I ended up liking this film much more than I’d been expecting. There’s a story on the side involving skinny little Jay Baruchel wanting to be a boxer & Freeman taking him under his wing. I really liked this story as well (plus that cool confrontation involving Freeman & one of the young boxers). The main story involving Swank is of course the most important but it was good to get a bit more to the movie besides just that.

I just have to end by saying: Oh man – I hated the f*%k out of Swank’s family in this! Which made her character all the more likeable. To put a horrible upbringing behind her & to try to live her dream is the uplifting sort of message people look for in a good story. Which is another reason why I think some people were probably angered by the ending of this film. What IS the ultimate message at the end? But life isn’t always fair & a Hollywood ending in real life is rare. I do watch movies for escapism and do prefer a happy ending but I also can’t get angry at a movie telling a story in a realistic way. I think some people felt cheated by this film. I think we were given a good film with powerful performances & a message of determination and friendship. It’s not an easy watch but it’s a good film I’m glad to have finally seen.

My Rating: 8/10

The Hustler (1961) Blind Spot Review

Today would have been Paul Newman’s birthday, so I’m reviewing his film The Hustler for my Blind Spot 2017 Series as well as my IMDB Top 250 Project. Like many classics, this was in the Top 250 when I started the project on 01/01/13 but is currently not on the list.

Let’s see what I thought of The Hustler (as well as its 1986 sequel The Color Of Money, which I’m reviewing tomorrow)…

The Hustler (1961)

Directed by Robert Rossen

Based on The Hustler by Walter Tevis

Starring: Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott, Myron McCormick, Murray Hamilton, Michael Constantine, Stefan Gierasch, Clifford Pellow, Jake LaMotta

IMDB Rank: 197 out of 250 (as of 01/01/13)

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Hustler tells the story of small-time pool hustler “Fast Eddie” Felson and his desire to break into the “major league” of professional hustling and high-stakes wagering by high-rollers that follows it. He throws his raw talent and ambition up against the best player in the country; seeking to best the legendary pool player “Minnesota Fats.”

My Opinion:

Paul Newman was so damn hot. What a hunk. I lusted after him through this whole movie. It’s quite disappointing that it’s in black & white because I like seeing those baby blue eyes of his in color. But even in black & white, he’s still dreamy. *sigh*

The Hustler is very good and I can see why it’s a classic and it totally sucks that current films keep knocking old films such as this one out of the IMDB Top 250. I can sort of understand why, though, as I’m guilty myself of not exploring many movies that are pre-1970 or so but it does annoy me that most young people want to watch nothing but current stuff these days. Anyway, I enjoyed The Hustler and the acting is phenomenal, which I think it what makes this one such a classic. Surprisingly, though, it was Piper Laurie who stole the show. Wow. More about her later…

Newman was his usual self: Full of charm & charisma. He was such a great actor and one of only a handful over the years who I feel had that extra “something” that made him my definition of a true movie star. You know that “something” that’s hard to explain? I feel that “something” is missing from most artists nowadays (especially within the music industry – even more so than in film). I haven’t explored as much of Newman’s work as I’d like but I can now say that The Hustler is a must-see for anyone wanting to see him in his best roles. There’s more than just his usual charm & charisma here – he’s a lonely, complex character and the movie truly comes alive when he becomes involved with Piper Laurie’s similarly lost soul.

Newman is fantastic and it’s a shame he didn’t win the Oscar but Laurie is stunning. I’m glad, like Newman, that she also got a nomination but it’s a shame that she hasn’t gotten more recognition for this role. I’ll be honest – I didn’t even know she was in The Hustler! I’ll also be totally honest & admit that I’ve never really known her as anything other than Margaret White in Carrie. I LOVE her in Carrie (she easily topped my list of My Top Ten Crazy Ladies In Movies). Who knew she could play a disturbed character with such sympathetic subtlety in The Hustler just as well as she did full-on batshit crazy in Carrie?? I love her in both roles but have a new respect for her – I’m very glad I got to see this performance.

Clearly the relationship between Newman & Laurie is what I latched onto and what made the movie for me but there are of course some other important characters and, yes – plenty of pool. The two really worth mentioning are Jackie Gleason as “Minnesota Fats”, a brilliant pool-playing rival to Newman, and George C. Scott as an evil, greedy bastard. Seriously – what a dick. I wanted to punch him in the face. Therefore, I guess he played his role well!

Summary:

The Hustler is worthy of its status as a classic and it’s a great way to kick off my choice of 2017 Blind Spot films. I admit, however, that it did drag for me at times in a way that older movies often do for those who have mostly watched post-1970 movies (like me). I have zero interest whatsoever in pool and, while this movie is not actually about pool and more about human interaction, there’s still plenty of pool. Some will of course love the actual pool scenes but the final game of pool is the only one that really matters and the one that fully held my attention. The movie is a little slow-going at first but the phenomenal performances from all involved, especially from Newman & Laurie, make the second half of the film intense & gripping. The Hustler is well worth your time if you have an interest in old Hollywood classics.

My Rating: 8/10

My 2017 Blog Resolutions 

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you’re all having a good 2017 so far. (Okay – it’s the 10th of January. I’m done saying “Happy New Year”). 😉

Like most people, I’ve made my own personal resolutions for 2017. I won’t share those here but they’re my main priority. However, I don’t want to abandon my “online movie diary” completely so I’ve decided on some things I’ll focus on this year in order to keep this blog going. Here are my 2017 Blog Resolutions:

Keep It Short

I ramble on too much (probably because I’m not a writer & I suck with words!). This has kept me from reviewing a lot of the (79!) movies I watched at home last year. This year, I’ll keep any reviews of non-current, meh movies very brief.

One Or Two Posts A Week

Simple: I’ll do a minimum of one or two posts a week. Some weeks there will be more but I won’t stress if I only manage one. I’ll mainly post Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and/or Thursdays.

Blind Spot Movie Reviews

The one blog commitment I didn’t come to regret in 2016 was watching & reviewing the 12 Blind Spot Movies that I chose last January. This is one of my main blog resolutions that I plan to stick to again this year. I’ll be posting my 2017 Blind Spot Choices tomorrow.

Reviews Of New Releases

I’ll again do my best to at least review all the current movie releases that I go to see this year. I’m always pretty good about keeping on top of this so it’s my other main commitment along with doing Blind Spot reviews.

IMDB Top 250 Project

This has been almost entirely on hold for the past couple of years. I no longer want any guest reviews as some became too much of a headache. But I do, from the bottom of my heart, thank those of you who fulfilled your guest review commitments at least once. Sincerely. *Hugssssss!* I got a lot of excellent classics reviewed on my blog thanks to you guys (and it gave me the opportunity to be very lazy for over a year with a guaranteed weekly post I didn’t have to write). 😉 I’m now going to go back to doing this on my own but I’m in no rush. By now, I’ve watched the majority of the Top 250 films that I actually WANT to watch. So I’ll make my goal, hmm… To watch & review four IMDB Top 250 Movies this year. Think I can manage that!

Top Ten Lists

I’ll still do these but not on a regular basis. When I do, I’ll probably continue to post them on a Thursday.

Books & Reviews

I tend to read about one book per month & I kept on top of reviewing them all in 2016. I’ll continue to try to do this but I’ll make my book reviews very brief as well. 

Themed Weeks/Months

I enjoy doing themed weeks and/or months on my blog but I won’t commit to definitely doing any this year. If I’m in the mood & if I have the time, these are the ones I keep toying with:

Studio Ghibli Week: I already devoted all of January 2015 to Studio Ghibli but have since been working my way through the non-Miyazaki films as well. I’ve watched five already so I’ll review them all one week. Probably. I already started 2017 by watching Arrietty. 🙂

Akira Kurosawa Week: I keep putting this off as I don’t know how to go about reviewing these fantastic films (I’ve only watched three so far). But I’ve just bought myself a lovely blu-ray set of five of his samurai films (it was cheap!) so, maybe one week by the year 2021, I’ll actually review all the Kurosawa films that I’ve watched.

John Carpenter Week: Another thing I’ve been putting off for two years! I have, however, watched plenty of his movies in preparation. One of these weeks…. BAM! I’ll suddenly review them all. Maybe. We’ll see.

New York City Week: I’ve watched so many movies based in NYC in the past year & have saved them up to devote a week to reviewing them. 

Rocky Week: To kill two birds with one stone, I’m putting the IMDB Top 250 film Rocky on my Blind Spot list. But, as the hubby keeps telling me how good Creed was, I figure I better watch all the Rocky movies first, right?? Ugh. Are there seven? Well, I’ll try! I do have them all available so I might as well. Considering how much I ended up enjoying Clint Eastwood Week last year, I’m bizarrely looking forward to watching all the Rocky “guy” movies. I’m a weird chick…

Non-Disney, Non-Pixar, Non-Ghibli Animation Month: One thing I really want to focus on is watching more animated films that aren’t necessarily “kids’ films” (although some will be). I’m talking about things such as Ralph Bakshi movies & non-Ghibli Japanese anime. There are also some movies that I’ve been meaning to watch for years, such as Watership Down. I have quite a long list, however, so it’s likely that I’ll watch what I can this year but not review anything until 2018. Hmm… 2018 resolution?! I’ve not even had a chance to break all my 2017 ones yet!

Well. That’s it. So much for my “Keep It Short” resolution!!! There – I’ve broken one already… See you tomorrow with my Blind Spot Choices. 🙂

The Graduate (1967) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Satu of Fairytale Pictures. Thanks for the review, Satu! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thought of The Graduate, IMDB rank 186 out of 250 (as of 01/01/13)…

There are another 15 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. The deadline is November 1st. The available films are:

Cool Hand Luke 1967
The Wrestler 2008
The Lives of Others 2006
The Sting 1973
Die Hard 1988
Léon 1994
The Hobbit 2012
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991
Rain Man 1988
Taxi Driver 1976
Gone with the Wind 1939
The Best Years of Our Lives 1946
Before Sunrise 1995
Before Sunset 2004
Life Is Beautiful 1997

See the full Top 250 list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

The Graduate (1967)
Directed by Mike Nichols
Written by Calder Willingham, Buck Henry (& Charles Webb (novel))
Starring Dustin Hoffman & Anne Bancroft

Synopsis: “A disillusioned college graduate finds himself torn between his older lover and her daughter.

It’s been a while since I saw The Graduate but I didn’t really like it. It bothers me that I don’t know what it is. A drama or a comedy? Is it supposed to be funny? Shocking? I don’t usually care that much but I just don’t get the hype of this film. It won an Oscar for the best directing. It was nominated in seven different categories and I have absolutely no idea why it won in that one? I know that Bonnie & Clyde that was multi-nominated that year too was much more interesting to watch.

The first thing that sticks out in The Graduate is lensing aka cinematography. It’s annoying as hell! Gosh. It drove me nuts. What are those freaking all-the-time weird shots? It feels so messy and to me it ruined most of the film. Then again, if the point was making life seem messy and pointless, it worked. And come to think of it now, it probably was the point if the viewer should feel like via main character? Huh. Kinda cool. But when watching, it didn’t work for me. The colour world was also ugly to my eye. Although, at the same time I can understand that it must have looked intriguing at the time. I especially hated that dolly shot in the end. Didn’t do good for our leading man. Ugh.

To my eyes, in this millennium, Dustin Hoffman looks way too old to be viewed as way too young compared to Anne Bancroft. And I don’t really like him anyway. I did like him in Rain Man and as Hook, I guess, but usually I find him like he would be good at playing vicious rodent and rodents are not cool. But I still guess he did nice job in this one. He felt bored and innocent at the same time. To me Anne Bancroft was even better at playing alcoholic house-wife. I don’t know, maybe it was somewhat easier to relate to her character, I would be bored out of my mind in a situation like that. In the end, it was very hard to like any of the characters in The Graduate. They’re not very likeable. That’s probably one of the main reasons why I didn’t enjoy the film that much. One needs to feel sympathetic.

My final grading is not that bad as I made it sound now but I’m still glad that The Graduate is not anymore in IMDb Top-250 like it was when this challenge was established. Maybe there are some people like me who think it is a bit over-appreciated.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) & For A Few Dollars More (1965) IMDB Top 250 Reviews

Happy Birthday to Clint Eastwood, who turns 86 today! 🙂

My blog is having a Clint Eastwood Week (I reviewed Play Misty For Me yesterday). And I figured what better way to celebrate his birthday today than to review his famous Dollars Trilogy for my IMDB Top 250 Project as they’re all in the 250. Well, I already recently reviewed The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (you can see that review HERE). I didn’t realize it was the “third” in the trilogy when I watched it first but it really doesn’t matter as the stories aren’t connected (they just have the same director & composer plus the main actor playing a different character in each). It was interesting seeing their “evolution”, however, as I think each film was better than the previous one. Let’s start by talking about the first in the trilogy: A Fistful Of Dollars.

A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) (Italian: Per un pugno di dollari)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Based on Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa & Ryuzo Kikushima

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch, Gian Maria Volontè, Wolfgang Lukschy, Sieghardt Rupp, Joseph Egger

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A wandering gunfighter plays two rival families against each other in a town torn apart by greed, pride, and revenge.

My Opinion:

I had no idea that this movie is basically the Yojimbo story by Akira Kurosawa & Ryuzo Kikushima (but not credited at the time, apparently). That’s interesting – there are a lot of Kurosawa films in the Top 250 & I’m very eager to work my way through them as I love Seven Samurai. So far, I’ve watched Ikiru & Rashômon so I’ll make Yojimbo the next one (I’ll have a Kurosawa Week once I’ve watched them all). I really liked the story of a drifter playing two rival families off against each other so am looking forward to seeing the original & comparing them.

I get the impression that some people may slightly prefer these first two Dollars films to The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. As I said above, I personally think each film got better & that the final one is the best but the first two do have much better pacing, less distracting voice dubbing, and stories that are easier to follow & that actually get right into things from the start instead of meandering along for almost three hours until reaching a fantastic finale.

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is the only one I’d call a “masterpiece” but these first two are also very good in a different way & are much more straightforward in telling their stories, which some people may prefer. There’s still a fair amount of time spent on characters standing around & staring at each other but it wasn’t yet to the extreme Leone went to in Once Upon A Time In The West. No, I’m not being a smart ass because I think that film is brilliant – the opening scene honestly contains the best staring ever committed to film. Here you go – the Once Upon A Time In The West staredown!

But back to A Fistful Of Dollars… I did find this the weakest of the three, mainly due to the fact that I didn’t really connect with or care about any of the characters (other than one family with a small boy) whereas the next film had a better revenge theme going on that I found more interesting & also had a good partnership that this one lacked. There’s plenty here for dudes, though – lots of fighting (with & without guns) and the usual amount of Clint Eastwood just looking like a stud while smoking & wearing a poncho. Eastwood IS very cool in these spaghetti Westerns, whether they’re your sort of thing or not, and has a great presence that not all actors manage (but is matched by his co-star in the second film). I now have less experience with his Dirty Harry movies than his Westerns but I think the Westerns suit him better.

This film does of course have yet another great showdown (as to be expected at the end of every Leone film I’ve seen so far). To say it’s the weakest of the three (or four if I include West as well) isn’t really a bad thing as all the Leone films I’ve now seen are fantastic & I can understand why they’re so popular even though this isn’t my favorite genre so I’ll never love them to the same degree as fans.

My Rating: 7/10

For a Few Dollars More (1965) (Italian: Per qualche dollaro in più)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volontè, Luigi Pistilli, Aldo Sambrell, Klaus Kinski, Mario Brega

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two bounty hunters with the same intentions team up to track down a Western outlaw.

My Opinion:

Now… For A Few Dollars More was genuinely enjoyable! Don’t get me wrong – I think these Leone films are beautiful works of art and worthy of the praise & recognition they later achieved but I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t find them all a bit of a chore to sit through. Of all four I’ve seen, I’d rank this as the third best yet I’d also say it’s the most enjoyable overall in that it’s the only one that held my interest the entire time.

It’s a simple (if rather cliché) story of revenge but, hey – that’s what I want from a Western. The one seeking revenge is Lee Van Cleef’s character. And what a great character he is! It’s the only time another character felt as important as Eastwood’s (if not more) and I cared about his story. The two of them are fantastic together & have amazing chemistry onscreen. He was also the “Bad” to Eastwood’s “Good” in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly but this was a much better role for him & I preferred their relationship in this.

Another thing that worked a bit better in this one than the previous film was the main baddie. He’s an evil bastard but also not quite right in the head & haunted by things in his past. He felt more developed than a lot of Western baddies. Actually, all the characters felt more well developed than usual (other than Eastwood’s but I think that’s always the whole point of his mysterious Man With No Name characters). That’s a big part of what made this film the most enjoyable – I can’t fully get into a film unless I buy into the characters & the story and this film did a good job with these elements.

Okay – I’ve not yet mentioned the Ennio Morricone score for either of these films. I don’t want to go on & on as I already raved about him in my review for The Good, The Bad And The Ugly but, damn, the man is a genius. There were no specific themes that stood out for me as much as in that one but the music truly helps make all these Leone spaghetti Westerns. Without the scores, I know I wouldn’t personally rate any of these movies as highly. The score is as important to these films as is Eastwood’s character & Leone’s cinematography. They all work perfectly together & make these films far greater than they’d be with one of these three elements missing.

Well, I think I’ve said enough about these movies. As I’ve said before, I’m no expert on Westerns but the four Leone films I’ve seen really are something special & definitely have my appreciation as beautiful works of art. I do think that each movie got better & better with Once Upon A Time In The West actually being the best overall. However, I’d probably stick with The Good, The Bad And The Ugly being my favorite as I think the score as well as the final 30 minutes or so of that film easily tops all others & pushes it into the “masterpiece” category that I don’t like to use as a label too often (if you’re curious, I gave both those movies a score of 8/10). I highly recommend both of those films at the very least but, if you want to start a bit smaller, the first two Dollars films are more easily “digestible” & For A Few Dollars More is probably the best one for non-Western lovers as I think a lot of people love a basic story of revenge.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Paths Of Glory & On The Waterfront IMDB Top 250 Reviews

These are my final two IMDB Top 250 Project movies I’ve watched but not yet reviewed (not counting the Clint Eastwood or the Akira Kurosawa films, which I plan to review all together). So from now on I’ll only be reviewing movies for this project on the occasional Tuesday as I happen watch more of them. My Tuesdays are now free! What the heck am I going to post weekly instead of these Top 250 reviews?!? Hmm. Most likely, nothing. I like the idea of a blog-free weekday!

I’ve put off “reviewing” these two as I don’t have much to say about them. They didn’t connect with me like so many of the films that I’ve watched for this project have. I understand why they’re classics & agree that they do deserve to be in the Top 250, though, despite them not working for me. Hey – we can’t all love the same movies! What a boring world this would be if that was the case.

So I’m going to say a very small bit about each film now just to get them off my list. Here you go: Two short paragraphs each for two all-time classics I’m clearly not cultured enough to have fully appreciated! 😉

Paths Of Glory (1957)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Based on Paths of Glory by Humphrey Cobb

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Wayne Morris, Richard Anderson

Plot Synopsis:
Set during World War I, the film stars Kirk Douglas as Colonel Dax, the commanding officer of French soldiers who refuse to continue a suicidal attack. Dax attempts to defend them against a charge of cowardice in a court-martial.

My Two Paragraph Opinion:

Wow – I, um, believe this is the only Kirk Douglas movie I’ve ever seen. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t watching Michael Douglas as they’re so similar (I suck). At least I’ve added another Stanley Kubrick to my list of movies seen (I’ve ranked his films HERE – I need to add in Full Metal Jacket at five while Paths Of Glory would be at six).

I preferred Paths Of Glory to On The Waterfront. The pacing was pretty slow so I’ll fully admit that my uncultured, non-war-movie-loving mind wandered quite often but it did have an overall story that I found far more compelling than that in On The Waterfront. I won’t give away the full story for those who know nothing about this but it’s something that should have moved me a bit more than it did. I think that, perhaps, they didn’t spend enough time developing a few characters who really deserved to have more time spent on them. I’ll say that Douglas was great in this so, yes, I really should watch at least one other movie he’s been in. The novel was based on a true story & this practice (what happens in the film) was done during World War I from what I can tell of the very little I read of this movie at Wikipedia (war experts can feel free to chime in on this). I don’t know how often this tactic was used but it’s truly appalling & the movie did finally have my full attention at the end. Honestly, I didn’t have a clue what the outcome would be – I don’t know how I managed to avoid such a huge movie spoiler for all these years. Paths Of Glory is a film deserving of all its praise with great performances & a very important topic that needed to be brought to light (apparently this movie was fairly controversial at the time as it’s a pretty anti-war film). It’s just not my type of thing but I’d certainly not disagree with anyone who says they love it as I can see it being a favorite film for some people. For all lovers of war movies, it’s a must-see.

My Rating: 7/10

On The Waterfront (1954)

Directed by Elia Kazan

Starring: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J Cobb, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint

Music by Leonard BernsteinIt’s the end of the world as we know it! (And I feel fine)

Running time: 108 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.

My Two Paragraph Opinion:

I watched this movie on September 9th, 2014. It’s taken me almost two years to muster up the (strength? courage??) to do a little write-up for it. I remember sticking this movie on & kind of half-watching it while doing some housework then finishing it later while in bed. This is when we were working on painting a wall in the bedroom so a big cabinet was in the middle of the room & partially blocking my view of the TV from the bed. So, yeah… this is how I watched On The Waterfront – a huge Oscar-winning, beloved classic. What can I say? I have no class. I’m a bum!

Umm. Unions? Mobs? I think I remember some pigeons. Marlon Brando! He’s in this. I haven’t watched a lot of Brando’s films (but at least I’ve watched more Brando films than Kirk Douglas films). Let’s see: I’ve seen this, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, and Superman. That’s it. I’m not a fan. Should I delete my blog? Will some big Brando fan come along to yell at me & tell me that my blog should be “taken down” like the Western-loving guy who commented on my review of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance? As much as I’ve moaned about having to watch all the war movies & Westerns in the Top 250, I’ve ended up really liking the ones I’ve watched so far (some are even favorites now, like The Bridge On The River Kwai & The Good, The Bad And The Ugly). So maybe I can’t keep saying they’re “not my type of thing”? The story in On The Waterfront, however, is what I think really isn’t my type of thing. It didn’t connect. I’ve never really gone for movies involving the mob in some way or for this type of drama. When it comes to older films, I prefer the “grand epics” to the types of films involving true-to-life human conflict with Oscar-worthy performances and lots of talking & drama. I find something like a Morricone score coupled with beautiful cinematography far more moving than an intense performance from an actor/actress. That’s just me – we’re all moved by different things & I’m not one to care too much about the “acting” in a movie (as long as the performances don’t totally suck). Brando is great in this, yeah. I didn’t follow the story very well or really find myself caring about any of the characters. I don’t remember it much now but that’s to be expected, I suppose, when you are only partially paying attention to a movie while it’s on. On The Waterfront won loads of Oscars (best picture, director, actor, supporting actress, screenplay, cinematography, art direction & film editing). Oh shit… That’s really a lot of Oscars. I’m going to delete my blog. I coulda had class! I coulda been a contender! I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it! *blog deleted* (Let’s go ahead & give this the same rating as Paths Of Glory, although I preferred that one. I’m sorry! Don’t hurt my pigeons!)

My Rating: 7/10

**If you can’t bear to see nothing posted on this blog on a Tuesday, here are the remaining films available for guest reviews:

Cool Hand Luke 1967
The Wrestler 2008
The Graduate 1967
The Lives of Others 2006
The Sting 1973
Die Hard 1988
Léon 1994
The Hobbit 2012
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991
Rain Man 1988
Taxi Driver 1976
The Best Years of Our Lives 1946
Before Sunrise 1995
Before Sunset 2004
Life Is Beautiful 1997

**Selected for now**
Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels 1998 (Tom)
To Kill a Mockingbird 1962 (Tom)
Gone with the Wind 1939 (dbmoviesblog)
2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 (Drew)

A Separation (2011) IMDB Top 250 Review & The Films I’ve Watched So Far (Ranked!)

*This is a very short review so I’ve decided to also rank all 42 films I’ve watched so far for my Top 250 Project. Woohoo! 😉

IMG_9826

A Separation (2011) (Persian: جدایی نادر از سیمین‎ Jodaí-e Nadér az Simín, “The Separation of Nader and Simin”)

Directed by Asghar Farhadi

Starring: Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Merila Zarei

Running time: 123 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A Separation is a 2011 Iranian drama that focuses on an Iranian middle-class couple who separate, and the conflicts that arise when the husband hires a lower-class care giver for his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

My Very Quickie Opinion:

I watched this movie on August 9th, 2014. Whoops! Is it really taking me almost two years to get around to reviewing some of these Top 250 films?? Yikes. 

This is truly going to be a quickie “review” as I don’t remember this film very well (I had to read the full plot synopsis online just now to refresh my memory). This is a very good film, so I can see why it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012. It’s a drama with great performances from all involved but it just isn’t my type of thing. I rarely like realistic dramas. I watch movies for escapism, which is probably why a lot of my favorites are sci-fi or fantasy.

I remember thinking the two main actors (the separating husband & wife) were especially good & I felt for their situation, particularly the husband struggling with taking care of his father who has Alzheimer’s. I won’t give away the plot but something happens with the woman who is hired to take care of the husband’s father and that’s just one of several stories woven together. It’s good in that most people watching this will relate to at least one of the stories/characters: whether it’s dealing with an aging parent, marital problems, religious beliefs & customs, etc. I didn’t relate to it any more or any less than I do to American films dealing with the same sort of issues. The themes are universal so it’s certainly worth a watch if this genre is your sort of thing – don’t let it being a foreign language film or my “meh” review put you off. It’s a good, Oscar-worthy film. But it’s just not my favorite genre. Once again, my ratings are based more on personal enjoyment than “worthiness” – I’d rate this one more highly if I rated only on worthiness.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Well, watching A Separation got another Top 250 film crossed off my list & I did say at the start that some might not get lengthy reviews from me. I started this project (details HERE) on 01/01/2013 & my goal is to watch all the IMDB Top 250 movies that I hadn’t yet seen at that point (I’d already seen 100 – those 100 are the ones I’ve let guests review). So I’m very slowly working my way through the rest of that 2013 list. I’ve watched 42 of the remaining 150.

As this review was so short, I thought I’d rank the 42 films I’ve watched so far. Because I’m sad like that. 😉 It’s quite obvious that the ones I’ve loved the most are the Studio Ghibli & the Charlie Chaplin films. I’d already watched a couple of Ghibli films when I started this but I do have this project to thank for introducing me to Chaplin. 🙂

I did keep some Top 250 favorites of mine to be reviewed by me someday instead of guests – things like The Shawshank Redemption & WALL-E (which I did review) and the Star Wars original trilogy & The Princess Bride. This list is only ranking the films I’ve watched since starting this project, not the 100 I’d already seen in the past. Most of my all-time favorite films are in the Top 250 – I just struggle to write about the ones I really love so I haven’t reviewed many of those. How could a review of mine ever express just how awesome Aliens or The Princess Bride are?! 🙂

So here are My IMDB Top 250 Project Movies Watched So Far (Ranked From Least Favorite To Very Favorite): (and I rated them all, too! I need a life…)

42-31:

42. Mary And Max – watched 7/6/13 – Rating: 4/10

41. Slumdog Millionaire – watched 28/4/13 – Rating: 5/10

40. Life Of Pi – watched 15/1/13 – Rating: 6.5/10

39. Warrior – watched 22/8/15 – Rating: 6/10

38. A Separation – watched 9/8/14 – Rating: 6.5/10

37. On The Waterfront – watched 9/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

36. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? – watched 24/3/13 – Rating: 7/10

35. Paths Of Glory – watched 22/8/15 – Rating: 6.5/10

34. Raging Bull – watched 29/9/13 – Rating: 7/10

33. Unforgiven – watched 17/8/14 – Rating: 6.5/10

32. Dog Day Afternoon – watched 18/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

31. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid – watched 26/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

Top Thirty:

30. Anatomy Of A Murder – watched 2/8/15 – Rating: 7/10

29. Witness For The Prosecution – watched 12/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

28. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – watched 9/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

27. A Fistful Of Dollars – watched 28/4/16 – Rating: 7/10

26. Sleuth – watched 5/2/13 – Rating: 7/10

25. City Of God – watched 18/1/14 – Rating: 8/10

24. Bicycle Thieves – watched 5/6/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

23. Rashômon – watched 16/8/14 – Rating: 7/10

22. Shadow Of A Doubt – watched 5/1/13 – Rating: 7/10

21. Notorious – watched 6/5/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

Top Twenty:

20. Sunset Boulevard – watched 7/11/15 – Rating: 7.5/10

19. For A Few Dollars More – watched 14/5/16 – Rating: 7.5/10

18. Rope – watched 4/1/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

17. Howl’s Moving Castle (Hauru no ugoku shiro) – watched 14/9/14 – Rating: 7/10

16. Ikiru – watched 1/1/16 – Rating: 7.5/10

15. Nosferatu (1922) – watched 14/7/13 – Rating: 7.5/10

14. M – watched 26/9/15 – Rating: 7.5/10

13. Once Upon A Time In The West – watched 02/07/13 – Rating: 8/10

12. Full Metal Jacket – watched 11/5/14 – Rating: 8/10

11. The Secret In Their Eyes – watched 23/3/13 – Rating: 8/10

Top Ten:

10. The Kid – watched 19/2/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

9. Grave Of The Fireflies (Hotaru no haka) – watched 1/1/15 – Rating: 8/10

8. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly – watched 16/2/16 – Rating: 8/10

7. The Great Escape – watched 28/10/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

6. The Bridge On The River Kwai – watched 23/6/13 – Rating: 9/10

5. Laputa: Castle In The Sky – watched 7/3/13 – Rating: 8/10

4. Princess Mononoke – watched 25/1/13 – Rating: 8.5/10

3. Modern Times – watched 1/1/13 – Rating: 9/10

2. City Lights – watched 15/2/13 – Rating: 9/10

1. Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind (Kaze no tani no Naushika) – watched 2/11/14 – Rating: 9/10

I highly recommend my Top Ten. No… I highly recommend 38 of these! There are so many true classics here. The bottom four don’t deserve a place in the Top 250 (but I only hated the bottom two – 39 & 40 are decent enough movies). I have to say that the top three are extra special to me & instantly became all-time favorites of mine. It’s sometimes a struggle to “force” myself to watch classic films such as these but I’m rarely disappointed when I do finally make the time for them. 🙂

Sunset Boulevard (1950) IMDB Top 250 Review

I’m back with one of my own IMDB Top 250 reviews! Let’s have a look at Sunset Blvd… 🙂

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Directed by Billy Wilder

Starring: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough

IMDB Rank: 51 out of 250

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars William Holden as Joe Gillis, an unsuccessful screenwriter, and Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, a faded silent movie star who draws him into her fantasy world where she dreams of making a triumphant return to the screen.

My Opinion:

At least I watched this Top 250 movie slightly more recently than the last one I reviewed (Warrior). I watched this on the 7th of November, 2015. I’m catching up! Unlike Warrior, this is an all-time classic that deserves its place in the IMDB Top 250. Although it’s not very “me” or one I’ll ever consider a favorite at this point, it’s easy to see why it’s so appreciated by true film lovers given its themes and its exploration of the movie industry & stardom. Plus the story of a faded starlet, a woman who has aged, is sadly still just as relevant of an issue nowadays. But things are improving somewhat, I think. We’ll get there one of these days, ladies! Let’s do this! Equal rights!! Do I sound like Patricia Arquette? I hope so! She’s great. 🙂

First of all… Wow – I had no idea how much American Beauty owes to this film. Damn – American Beauty has just gone down slightly in my estimation. But Kevin Spacey is still great! I’m sure he’s a William Holden fan.

I really need to watch more older films like this one. I’m not sure why I find that so difficult – I started this project as a way to “force” myself to watch the old classics I’ve never seen. Therefore, the names in this don’t have as much meaning to me as they should. Look at this impressive list from Wikipedia:

The film stars William Holden and Gloria Swanson with Erich von Stroheim as Max Von Mayerling, her devoted servant. Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough and Jack Webb play supporting roles. Director Cecil B. DeMille and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper play themselves, and the film includes cameo appearances by leading silent film actors Buster Keaton, H. B. Warner and Anna Q. Nilsson.

I should know more of those people but I only instantly recognized a couple of names. William Holden was in plenty of films but I never really noticed him until I watched The Bridge On The River Kwai for this project (which I loved – it’s one of my favorite “new discoveries”). I really enjoyed his performance in this.

I knew that Gloria Swanson was a star long before this film, which is why she was chosen for this, but this is certainly the only thing I’ve seen her in. Wow – she really is fantastic! I’m shocked that she didn’t win an Oscar for this. She was of course nominated but I just assumed she’d won. She was robbed!

If you’d asked me to name Cecil B. DeMille’s work before I looked him up just now, I’d have only been able to say The Ten Commandments. I’ve never seen any of his films. I’m so ashamed! I’m a sorry excuse for a movie blogger. I know of his name just as much from the extremely well-known “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up” line in this (as do most people – it’s one of the all-time greatest movie quotes). And I love now knowing that the man playing Swanson’s butler in this movie used to direct her in real life. I didn’t know that either until I read this in IMDB trivia:

There are several references to Gloria Swanson’s actual career in the film. Norma’s butler, Max, who used to be one of her directors is played by Erich von Stroheim, who directed Swanson in the movie Queen Kelly, clips from which are used in the scene where Norma and Joe watch one of her old films. Norma goes to visit Cecile B DeMille, several of whose films she had starred in. Swanson had also starred in several DeMille films.

Summary:

Sunset Boulevard is a true classic. It’s very “clever” & well-written, but I think that’s a given since it’s a Billy Wilder film. It’s very self-referential and the way it satirizes the movie industry was apparently quite controversial at the time and makes this movie seem very ahead of its time. So many films are similar to Sunset Boulevard nowadays – it reminded me of things like the Coen Brothers films in the way those are written & of course the whole of Robert Altman’s The Player. It clearly has had a huge impact on many filmmakers and I’m glad I finally watched it. I can now say that I’ve seen four Billy Wilder films (Sunset Blvd, The Apartment, Witness For The Prosecution & Double Indemnity – yay, me!). Although I’d have to say that I didn’t love this one in the same way that I did The Apartment, this one is probably the best “film“. Sunset Boulevard is a movie that every true film lover should watch at least once, especially for Swanson’s performance. It deserves a higher rating than I’m giving it. Hey, as I always say: I rate these movies based on my own personal enjoyment. I enjoyed The Apartment more but there’s no denying Sunset Boulevard’s brilliance.

My Rating: 7.5/10

FYI – If anyone wants to do a guest Top 250 review, these are the films still available:

Cool Hand Luke 1967
The Wrestler 2008
The Graduate 1967
The Lives of Others 2006
The Sting 1973
Die Hard 1988
Léon 1994
The Hobbit 2012
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991
Rain Man 1988
Taxi Driver 1976
The Best Years of Our Lives 1946
Before Sunrise 1995
Before Sunset 2004
Life Is Beautiful 1997

**Selected for now**
Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels 1998 (Tom)
To Kill a Mockingbird 1962 (Tom)
Gone with the Wind 1939 (dbmoviesblog)
2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 (Drew)

Warrior (2011) IMDB Top 250 Review

The guest reviews have dried up so here I am again, finally reviewing another one of these for my own IMDB Top 250 project. You see, I’ve been super lazy on doing these reviews but not as lazy on actually watching the movies. So let’s discuss Warrior, which I watched on August 22nd 2015! This should be entertaining as I barely remember the damn thing… 😉

Warrior (2011)

Directed by Gavin O’Connor

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Nick Nolte

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 153 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The youngest son of an alcoholic former boxer returns home, where he’s trained by his father for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament – a path that puts the fighter on a collision course with his estranged, older brother.

My Opinion:

I remember this film having very good performances, totally dysfunctional family relationships, lots of fighting, and me falling asleep several times (especially during the long mixed martial arts tournament at the end). This movie is good but it didn’t work for me. Hey, that happens sometimes. Any regulars here will know that I give ratings mostly based on my own personal enjoyment of a movie but do factor in a movie’s “worthiness” somewhat as well. Yes, it probably deserves higher praise than it will seem that I’m giving it. Let’s discuss the good things about it.

The performances. Most notably: Nick Nolte. He’s the best thing about this. He did get nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as the estranged alcoholic father of Joel Edgerton & Tom Hardy and I think that nomination was well-deserved. A lot of people might say that Tom Hardy is the best thing about this and, yes, he’s very good too but Nolte’s performance was more memorable for me. I think Edgerton was probably unfairly ignored in this as he’s the most “together” of this estranged family while Hardy’s U.S. Marine & Nolte’s recovering alcoholic are thoroughly damaged individuals. The truly damaged characters always get the most attention but I think Edgerton & Hardy are equally good in this.

Can I just go off topic slightly & say that I’m always confusing Nick Nolte & Gary Busey? Like, I keep thinking “I really liked Nick Nolte in Point Break” then later realize that it was actually Gary Busey. Anyone else ever mix up a couple of actors? They were just in the same types of movies at the same sort of time and they look kind of similar. Busey was the crazy one, though, right? You know what Nolte movie I really like, though? Three Fugitives! I probably shouldn’t admit that… It’s one of my embarrassing guilty pleasures.

Where were we? Oh. Warrior. Yeah. As I said, it was almost a year ago that I watched it. Everyone in it was angry & depressed & damaged & had some sort of drama going on in their lives so the men relieved their stress by kicking each other’s asses. Edgerton was a lovely father & husband, though.

Okay – there’s no point in me rambling on as I’m just trying to tick these unseen IMDB Top 250 movies off my list. Watch them, write a tiny bit about each, and move on. Does this deserve to be in the Top 250 alongside some of the absolute classic films on the list? Of course not. It IS a very good film with fantastic performances but it’s no The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (the last Top 250 film I reviewed which, although also not my type of “thing”, I gave an extremely positive review as there was no denying its moments of pure genius).

I’d never disagree with anyone who does love this film as I can easily understand its appeal. I’d also most definitely recommend it to either gender but, yes, mostly to males who like movies such as Rocky as this is aimed more at them. I’ll admit this now: I also have yet to watch Rocky for this project but I’ve seen enough bits & pieces of that film over the years to know it’s not just about “guys beating each other up”. If it was, it wouldn’t be so highly regarded. Warrior is exactly the same: it’s a film about the characters, their relationships, determination, and overcoming the odds. The mixed martial arts is just the backdrop but, hey, that makes it a far more entertaining film for those who like that sort of thing. It’s predictable & there are a lot of clichés but they’re forgivable as the three central performances are so good. This is the equivalent of a chick flick for men although no one would probably dare say that as “chick flicks” get a bad rap. I like the occasional chick flick the same way I like any clichéd feel-good movie and Warrior is truly no different – it just transcends these faults thanks to the strong characters. Its IMDB rating is 8.2 so don’t let my opinion put you off.

My Rating: 6/10


The Help (2011) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Natasha of Life Of This City Girl. Thanks for the review, Natasha! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thought of The Help, IMDB rank 234 out of 250…

There are another 15 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

Movie Review: The Help (2011)

Plot: An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

Rating: 8.5/10

Hey, T9M readers! I’m reviewing The Help here today, because when I saw it was on T9M’s remaining movies to review for her IMDb Top 250 challenge I greedily claimed it as my own, seeing my chance to finally watch it.

I was surprised. Not only is The Help a really good film, it is also right up my alley and has stayed with me since I saw it.

What works well for this film first and foremost is a fantastic cast. To name a few, but certainly not limited to, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Emma Stone, Allison Janney to Anna Camp all came to life as some form of a Southern Belle working to adjust to changing times.

The Help focuses on a time in America when things were changing. Women were entering the workforce, they were suddenly allowed to have bigger dreams than being barefoot and pregnant, and alongside that liberation came a movement where people realized that black people also had rights. Shocking, I know. Idiots. That’s where Skeeter Phelan comes in – she’s recently graduated and in look of making a name for herself. She moves back to Jacksonville, her home town that has not progressed with racial equality at all, and starts working a dead end job writing housekeeping tips for the local newspaper. Skeeter seeks to find the nanny who raised her, a woman whose disappearance makes her very worried – this is the woman that truly raised her, not her scatterbrained and often mean spirited mother. This leads her to embark on a project that records the tales of the black women who raise white children while their own sit at home.

In a very idealistic fashion, The Help isn’t particularly violent. I’m not a fan of gratuitous violence at all. There is a time and place for it and only in certain films, and I get upset especially when it involves minorities being beaten down. Django Unchained is pretty much the threshold for me, and let me tell you, as much as I love Tarantino, that film was almost too much to watch. The Help tells and accurately depicts inequality without making it an unnecessary blood fest nor a pity party, and yet you walk away feeling definitely disgusted with white ancestry. I saw that a lot of people did feel that the movie fancily glosses over the atrocities that happened and I do agree on that point though.

I liked the most that there were some genuinely sweet white people that offset the heinous racists that were also depicted. Jessica Chastain plays the particularly kind Cecilia Foote, who has been shunned because she’s just a bit too attractive and fun loving for Hilly Holbrook, excellently brought to life by Bryce Dallas Howard. Hilly is racist and underhanded, using her status in town to control everything– social events, treatment of staff and generally just getting her way in everything. The good tries to offset the bad, but it is still so obvious about how unjust the system was – I recently saw that it was a time period where it was finally acknowledged that black people deserved rights, just not quite as many as white people. I’m not going to go all swearing about this, because I am guest blogging here, but you can please include a number of profanities to gather my opinion about this.

Most of all, the end impressed me – things do not end perfectly for Phelan. After successfully publishing her novel, Phelan is shunned by many in town, including her boyfriend, but since he was a pompous, primitive prick from the very start I’m not feeling that she’s missing out on something special. It shows that actions have consequences, even when the action was required and did something good.

If you are looking for a film that accurately portrays inequality in the 1950’s, this probably isn’t for you. The Help is mostly feel good with some bad moments between, a very well-produced and acted out film for this. Octavia Spencer won Best Supporting Actress for this and it is well deserved – her sassy attitude is a scene stealer every single time. I’m likely to watch it again at some point, and am pretty glad that I took the time to watch this.

Thanks for having me lady!

Black Swan (2010) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Jia Wei of Film & Nuance. Thanks for the review, Jia Wei! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on Black Swan, IMDB rank 177 out of 250 on 01/01/13…

There are another 15 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

Black Swan: Reveries and desires

Ask me to name a list of movies that have profoundly disturbed me for the longest time and you will find Black Swan gracing the very top; Oh you know because swans are graceful and all. Did you find that funny? Because that’s the only funny thing you’ll see from this review and from the movie. Darren Aronofsky’s dark reverie of a film proliferates ideas of duality, the yin-yang of human nature and it’s inherent dichotomies between good and evil. An opening shot of Black Swan is a memorable dance sequence involving Natalie Portman’ as she performs the Swan Lake where the princess Odette is cursed and transfigured into a swan by the devilish Rothbart. It is hauntingly choreographed by Aronofsky whose brilliance we see throughout the film. What’s particularly symbolic here is how the ‘swan’ persona, which becomes the crucial metaphor throughout the film, is at once both graceful and cursed; A little something to note when interpreting the film. Black Swan is like art that slowly unwraps itself with every deliberate attempt to shock and traumatize, revealing the tragic poise it so gracefully holds.

Aronofsky is definitely the artist who isn’t afraid to show. In fact, his philosophy here is that if he could expose everything, he would. Psychological elements flood the film till the point where truth and reality are bent to fit the style. Potraits would come alive (think sinister version of Harry Potter talking paintings) and mock Nina’s increasingly blurry perception. Hallucinations allow Aronofsky to feed the emotional conflict and mental delusions. Black Swan is not for the faint of heart because around every dark corner lie monsters of the mind.

Black Swan’s methods may be extremely explicit but it’s themes are cuttingly profound. Some call it a passionate melodrama which I think doesn’t do the film justice. Melodrama connotates dragging…the kind of dragging that irritates but sure perhaps it’s also artistic. I beg to differ. For as much as Black Swan has deliberated it’s hypnotic sequences and emotional conflicts, it has also haunted my senses and heightened my anticipation for the tension that would ensure. That alone is enough to dispel the idea that it’s a tedious and melodramatic affair. Yes, it’s hyperactive and yes it’s visually unrestrained but damn, it’s one hell of a movie.

In my view, Friedrich Nietzche’s book on philosophy titled ‘The Birth Of A Tragedy’ is somewhat linked to the film in the sense that Black Swan’s interpretation lie in the way that nature and tragedy are set up to be. To be fair, there will be endless interpretations of the film and mine is just one out of many. But I think that in order to fully appreciate the beauty in what Natalie Portman has portrayed in Nina is essential. It is only through her flaws that I also see her complete beauty and only through the film’s depressing moments do I appreciate the fixed balance dichotomy between light and darkness, desire and repression, id and ego. Black Swan’s entrancing dance sequences relates somewhat to Nietzsche’s notes on greek tragedy and music; Notice how the ballads in the film rise and fall periodically, with crescendos and dimineundos that mirror Nina’s oscillating state of mind. Natalie Portman and her double do well to convey the the polar opposites of effeminate grace and unbridled release that torment Nina during her performances. She battles not her inner demons but her conflicted nature. I read that Aronofsky had many takes and rehearsals for his dance sequences. It’s no wonder that he was able to surface the raging tempest of the mind so well. Everything from flawless acting to musical lyricism to contrasting imageries of black and white pour out in perfect yet painful harmony. As each dance progressively becomes more challenging and demanding, so too do the lines between the black and white swan.

What is more powerful than pleasing the audience? Shocking them. I’m inclined to name a few more films like Under the skin and Mulholland Drive. It might just be my taste but there’s no point shocking someone without telling them why. Though the abovementioned films have got me jumping right out of my seat, Black Swan does it with brutal simplicity. It’s not abstract which is why I like it so so much. You don’t spend time wrecking your head thinking why Nina did this or that and instead are left to mull over the lasting consequences of the character’s actions. Black Swan’s may range from being a psycho-sexual study to a director’s symphonic masterpiece, but in the end, it’s destructive melancholy is a psychedelic look at our unresolved natures.

P.S. This was my second best movie of 2010 behind Inception. The Social Network is third. And The King’s Speech is nowhere to be seen 😉

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966) IMDB Top 250 Review

Hi everyone! I’m finally doing my own IMDB Top 250 review again! I’ve been too lazy about doing these myself instead of just posting guest reviews… Let’s get started!

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966)
Italian title: Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo

Directed by Sergio Leone

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Aldo Giuffrè, Mario Brega, Eli Wallach

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.

My Opinion:

First of all, I better point out that I shouldn’t be allowed to review a Western as I “clearly know nothing about them” and should just “delete” my blog (as an extremely angry, Western-loving troll told me in the comments of my review for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance). Man I love trolls! And I always reply to them like a damn idiot.

Well, here’s a further reply to the issue my troll addressed: We all have a “first time” experience of EVERYTHING in life – why should we not be allowed to discuss something just because we don’t have a thoroughly extensive knowledge of it? I’m working my way through the IMDB Top 250, partly, to gain more knowledge of films that are seen as classics and to have a better understanding of those that are within the genres that I’ve not really explored before (mainly war movies & especially Westerns). So I apologize if I offend anyone by discussing yet another Western even though I haven’t managed to first watch “every Western known” like that troll has. Good for him! I’d rather watch a wide range of films from all kinds of different genres. (For the record, I gave The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance quite a positive review). Now onto my uneducated review of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

This is Western #5 for me out of the Top 250 and I’m afraid to say that I found it slightly disappointing after starting with Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West (although I did like it more than The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid & Unforgiven). Personally, I thought West was a better film overall and enjoyed it more than this one. However, I believe West had a much larger budget so it’s not totally fair to compare the two. Also, I’ll say that this one has a brilliant ending and I absolutely loved the final half hour or so plus I of course couldn’t get enough of the amazing Morricone score. 

How the hell had Ennio Morricone not won an Oscar before this year?  He’s a true genius so, until this year’s Oscars, I’d always just assumed he’d won one before now. I didn’t further look into it until after seeing The Good, The Bad And The Ugly as I wanted to see who the hell managed to beat Morricone that year but the film wasn’t even nominated for any Oscars at all, let alone the score. This score wasn’t even nominated?!?! It’s a masterpiece! Stupid Academy… (Even IMDB users have more sense – this film is currently very high at number 9 out of 250)

This film is the third in what later became known as Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy“, which I did know but didn’t actually think to look at the order in which they came out & for some reason thought this was the first of three instead of the last. The other two are in the Top 250 as well so maybe I should’ve watched them in order? I suppose it doesn’t matter too much as the stories are unrelated & Eastwood has a different name in each but it would’ve been interesting to see how Leone’s movies developed over time.

For its time & budget, I realize that The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is a damn masterpiece. I have to admit, though, that the dubbed dialogue is very distracting in this one. It’s not something I noticed as much in West but I suppose there were a lot more English-speaking actors in that one. Apparently Leone cared much more about the look of the film than the dialogue so all the dialogue was recorded in post-production.

However, I personally appreciate a “sweeping epic” such as The Good, The Bad And The Ugly with a beautiful score & visuals much more than, say, a modern-day, straightforward, documentary-style Oscar winner such as Spotlight. The two Leone films I’ve seen just say “now THIS is proper filmmaking!” to me. I guess it depends on what kind of movies you prefer but someone with zero experience of Spaghetti Westerns may struggle with the length, slow pace & bad dubbing of this film (I’m experienced – I have two Spaghetti Westerns under my belt now). 😉

As for Clint Eastwood, I do quite like him as an actor but never fully understood the appeal before (although I’m liking him even more recently after watching two great 70’s classics of his – Escape From Alcatraz & Play Misty For Me). I kind of understand the appeal now after finally seeing one of his classic Spaghetti Westerns. The dude is f*%#ing cool, okay? Look at him in that poncho! Look at the cool way that cigarette hangs out of his mouth!

After this movie, I thought “Damn – I wish Eastwood had played Harmonica in West instead of Charles Bronson”. Bronson is okay but Eastwood had that extra special something in the same way Harrison Ford had something special as Indiana Jones. I just read that Eastwood was offered the role of Harmonica but turned it down due to falling out with Leone. What a shame! I really liked Eastwood in this and he helps make this a classic along with “The Bad” and “The Ugly” – Lee Van Cleef & Eli Wallach, who are both also great in the film. I especially liked the relationship between Eastwood’s & Wallach’s “Good” & “Ugly” and the fact that you apparently couldn’t trust anyone in the Wild West.

Summary:

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is a fantastic film and I can see why Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns are so highly regarded to this day. However, I’m not going to pretend that it’s now going to be an all-time favorite of mine. Yes, I found it overlong and too slow at times (I watched it off & on over two days while doing chores) plus it was very hard to not be distracted by that bad dubbing. But there are a lot of films like this that I almost like the thought of more than the actual film itself…

For example: I couldn’t stop thinking about The Man Who Fell To Earth after watching it – it looked cool as hell and David Bowie was this amazing otherworldly presence but it’s so flawed that to call it a good film would be a lie even though I loved it. I feel kind of the same way about The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and also Once Upon A Time In The West (although both indeed ARE very good films). What I’m doing a horrible job of trying to explain is this: I’d find it very hard to sit down and watch any of these three films from start to finish again but I think the overall look, feel, and score (the latter in the case of the Leone films) make these the exact sort of movies I wish were still being made. Well, okay – some are as The Revenant is this same sort of thing (and I think it would’ve made a more worthy Best Picture Winner than Spotlight as it’s the one that’ll be more appreciated and seen as a masterpiece in 20 years in the same way Leone’s movies are seen now). The artistic beauty of Leone’s films makes me happy and I find that very moving in a way that I rarely get with films nowadays. Sorry… that sounds cheesy as hell! Hey – look at Clint Eastwood’s smokin’ hot son Scott:

Where was I? This review is almost as long as the movie itself! (2 hours 41 minutes, FYI). Basically, I’m a sucker for a film with awesome visuals & a beautiful score and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is one of the all-time greatest when it comes to these two things. I may never sit through it for its entirety again but I’ve re-watched the ending, starting with the scene involving Morricone’s gorgeous The Ecstasy Of Gold, several times in the past month. It’s not very often that I have the desire to keep re-playing a part of a movie like that so I consider that to be some damn fine filmmaking.

My Rating: 8/10

Awesome theme. So damn awesome. But this one actually gives me chills:

All About Eve (1950) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Diane of Tvor Travels. Thanks for the review, Diane! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thinks of All About Eve, IMDB rank 104 out of 250…

There are another 14 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

All About Eve (1950)

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Writer: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

All About Eve is one of my all time favourite movies. It has a feel of being one of those films that was adapted from a stage play, probably because it’s all about the theatre, the actors and the rivalries but it was in fact, based on a short story “The Wisdom of Eve” by Mary Orr. The script was written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

The basic premise of the movie is about an aging Broadway star, Margo Channing. She’s just turned 40, she’s a brilliant and talented actress, but the best roles are for the younger engenue and it’s getting more and more difficult for her to pass as one. Age and experience has a way of contributing a jaded attitude that does not work well with a role for a younger character, after all. Her lover is 8 years younger than her, and she’s feeling insecure about that, as well. Into the mix comes Eve Harrington, seemingly a star struck young woman who looks up to Margo and wants to be like her. In every way. She wants to be a famous actress and is determined to claw her way to the top using any scheming means necessary including seduction, subversive manipulation, and metaphorical back stabbing. Completing the main cast are Margo’s younger lover, Bill who is a director, her best friend, Karen, her friend’s husband, Lloyd, who writes the plays Margo has starred in.

The movie starts with an awards ceremony where Eve Harrington is receiving the very prestigious Sarah Siddon’s award for Distinguished Achievement. We then backtrack. Eve Harrington shows up at the stage door one dark and rainy night. Karen invites her to meet her idol, Margo Channing, and Eve narrates her life story, a classic and a bit cheesy story of a poor farm girl who wanted to be an actress but has lived a boring and dull life until she discovered amateur dramatics and later, Margo Channing. She even tells them she married a war hero who was killed in action. It’s all very tragic. Just as Eve intended. Here we have a fabulous line from Birdie, Margo’s assistant and dresser. “What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snapping at her rear end!”

The action is narrated from various points of view through the course of the film. We start with sardonic theatre critic, Addison deWitt then move over to Karen when Eve is introduced. Margo takes over at the start of Eve being taken on as an assistant. It’s interesting, and it adds that little extra aspect to the characters and their reactions to Eve. Addison has the full measure of the diabolical Eve and manages to rein her in from her most destructive tendencies but Addison also likes to hitch his wagon to a winner and he can see the writing on the wall. Karen is naive and like most of the characters, believes Eve’s stories and explanations at first. Margo sees nothing but what Eve wants her to see, blinded by the young woman’s adoration of her at first until her jealousy and insecurity take hold.

We follow Eve as she insinuates herself into Margo’s life as she worms her way up the ladder to the boards of the stage, getting a chance as the understudy that makes her triumphant debut and a star is born. Lloyd becomes enchanted by Eve’s young talent. Bill becomes disenchanted by Margo’s jealousy. Eve plays them all like chess pieces. But Eve’s also going to have to watch her own back. Karma might be waiting in the wings.

The cast is superb, with Bette Davis taking the role of Margo and Anne Baxter as Eve. Gary Merrill plays Bill, Margo’s husband and was married to Bette Davis by the time the film was released in 1950. Addison deWitt is played by the wonderful George Sanders with Celeste Holm and Hugh Marlowe as Karen and Lloyd. The film is also noted for an early appearance by Marilyn Monroe in the famous scene that ends with the legendary Davis line “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night”. In fact, this movie is full of superb dialogue.

The movie pokes holes in Broadway, the actors and the lifestyle and it shows a not-so-nice side of the business, where men can age and continue to get great parts, but women can’t. Things are getting a little better in that respect, but it’s not come along in leaps and bounds, either. The film was nominated for and won a lot of awards including the Oscar for Best Picture in a year where it competed with Sunset Boulevard, another really strong movie. Anne Baxter and Bette Davis were both nominated for Best Actress and neither won, probably splitting the vote.

I’m sure the character of Margo, very similar in age to Davis, exhibiting the fear, vulnerability and insecurities of an actress at that age and in that time period probably felt very familiar. She certainly made the character believable and played it very realistically. That’s what was so great about Bette Davis, she never backed down from a character, even if the character was unflattering or unlikeable. She would want the character to transcend the actress and that’s why she was one of the best of what she did. For me, this is Bette Davis at the very top of her game.

The Artist (2011) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Jia Wei of Film & Nuance. Thanks for the review, Jia Wei! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on The Artist, IMDB rank 193 out of 250 on 01/01/13…

There are another 14 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

When I saw that CinemaParrotDisco‘s IMDB Top 250 challenge had The Artist up for grabs for reviewing , I signed up immediately. I’ve always wanted to watch the film and it was in my Blindspot list as well, so I figured, kill two birds with one stone eh? 🙂

The Artist is bravura in film-making. It is completely unapologetic. Instead of your mainstream film that champions a bonanza of eye-popping camera tricks and visual feasts, or prides itself as having dialogue that’s engaging and extensive, The Artist is a complete rejection of the big-screen movie formula. It dispels the notion that ‘effects’, or some other word suggesting the advent of modern film-making, is needed to produce a great film. In fact, it is in the very drastically different approach the film has taken that has led it to create new experiences for audiences; It has broken into the virgin land of pure emotional resonance. Indeed, it’s not the first silent and black and white film. But considering our current day and age, it has boldly relived a nostalgic era of the past and breathed new life into a picture that transcends accesorries: No colour, no sound and nothing to adulterate the experience. To use a cliche phrase on a wholly un-cliched film, The Artist is the embodiment of ‘less is more’. Director Michel Hazanavicius and actors Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo seemed stretched to their maximum potential to create raw tension from acting alone. And how fitting was it that the film was about the very struggle itself, the fight to hold on to the last vestiges of success, and the tragic tryings of a man who desperately held on to that which he gave him voice – Silence.

In all that forms The Artist, nothing can be said to be pretentious. We’ve seen too many pretentious films these past two years, the most notable of all is a fellow Oscar winner same-genre film Birdman. It features a ‘washed-up broadway actor’ trying hard to regain relevancy and salvage his ego. One cannot help but compare the two, and if you’ve put off seeing The Artist for some reason like I did until recently, I say wait no more! But enough about the one-take ‘much ado about nothing’ film and let’s talk about something truly revolutionary. Paying homage to both the black & white as well as the silent era of films in the past, The Artist could only have pulled its stunt off with the conviction and power in both Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo’s acting. The former plays a sort of celebrity figure in a dying age. Dujardin mixes just enough pomp and suave to foreshadow his later downfall. Bejo plays the vivacious and preppy up-and-coming rising star hoping to rise through the ranks. Their chemistry is unmistakable, and becomes a point of contention between destructive co-existence and fruitful romance.

John Goodman plays the ultra realistic director/production boss who shifts with the tides of cinema, at one point telling George Valentin(Jean Dujardin) quite directly, “The audience want’s fresh meat.” But let’s get real here, the other characters didn’t really leave us with anything. Jean and Berenice stole the show. Oh wait, I almost forgot George’s pet puppie. But we’ll get back to that later. Michel Hazanavicius’ directing is splendid. What I love so much about the film was its untainted portrayal of the ‘silent era’. Even in the most joyful moments, the quiet functioned to unsettle a little,then a little more until the internal struggle of the mind truly reared its ugly head. Indeed,silence does play around with how we feel. In the film’s happiest moments, the psychological effects of George’s nadir festers in subtlely. At the end, quite surprisingly, one of the film’s sweetest moments come when the end seemed doomed to the inevitable.

Ultimately, The Artist takes you through the bygone age, unearthing a richly depicted world of film-making in the silent era way back. You’ll find the silence a little puzzling at first, but when Jean begins to hear the sounds of his habitus but not the sound of his own voice, you will start to fully appreciate what the film is actually trying to say. It’s not simply a romance film of disconnected lovers . It’s not about a love-hate relationship with ego toying with the frailties of man. It is in fact about the value of a man in terms of the art he creates, and his horror and sadness at the cruel workings of time that slowly sweeps everything it once glorifies into memory. Dujardin’s performance is powerful in that he is able to show the artist that has come undone, and Hazanavicius masterfully creates humour and catharsis to salvage the nilhilism and devastation he has built up. Oh I almost forgot…the dog! Well actually other than being Jean’s best pal, this little guy actually represents both George and Peppy(Berenice Bejo); The dog’s loyalty mirrors George’s unflailing love for his art while also being a symbol of Peppy’s undying support for Jean. There’s so much to explore and interpret on your own, so go watch it if you haven’t because I’m sure it’ll touch you.

Partly a tribute to film of ages past and partly a romantic-comical film, The Artist is an ode to the psychology of the artist, craftsman and performer. It is an insightful look into the fine barometers by which these artists weigh their own worth and success, and the dysfunction when the world no longer shares the same sentiment. It is admirable but also tragic and Hazanivius shows how there can perhaps be a saving grace that transcends all the art and craft in the world. In a nerve-wrecking finish, The Artist offers us what we hope for. And although we can’t truly say that we’re certain of what lies ahead, we know for sure that love that is pure is love that can save us all.

Rating: 9/10

Images credited to La Petite Reine, ARP Sélection, Studio 37, La Class Americane,France 3 CinemaU Film, Jouror Productions, JD Prod, Warner Bros and The Weinstein Company

Catch Me If You Can (2002) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Satu of Fairytale Pictures. Thanks for the review, Satu! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thought of Catch Me If You Can, IMDB rank 240 out of 250…

There are another 16 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

I originally wrote this review/summary for my scriptwriting course, so there’s more plot details that I usually include but change is good, right? I also added some points. Hope you enjoy reading it. Spoilers ahead.

Sometimes it’s easier living the lie​​​​

Catch Me If You Can is a crime dramedy based on a biography of Frank Abagnale Jr., American con-man who succeeded in forging millions of dollars of fake checks while pretending to be a Pan-Am pilot, a doctor and a lawyer, all that before his 19th birthday. The film is directed by Steven Spielberg. It was released 2002 and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a main character Frank Abagnale Jr., Tom Hanks as a federal officer Hanratty chasing him and Christopher Walken is Frank Sr.

I saw Catch Me If You Can for the first time when it was released in Finland in 2003. I liked it back then and I liked it this time even more, probably because I paid more attention to the details of the film. Spielberg knows how to do details, his films are always looking and sounding great. The film is not overly emotional, so, even though I’m quite emotional person, I didn’t cry during the film. Mostly I guess I was exhilarated and afterwards relieved and in the end, disappointed, at least a bit. The main character is likeable and a con-man, so it’s easy to get excited for him and feel relieved after he manages his mischiefs. Disappointed-part is debatable.

(SPOILERS IN THIS PART) “Sometimes it’s easier living the lie”, says Hanratty at the end of the film. The phrase summarizes the film. Catch Me If You Can is a story of responsibility, growing up and bringing up. It’s a story of owning up. The film might be an adventure to viewer but it also makes you think what is justified in order to get around in one’s life. But in the end, I figure that Catch Me If You Can is a bit too much of a “lesson” about what kind of life you should live. And that is what let me down; the film ended up being one those familiar stories; bad childhood, rebelling child, moral aberrations and again, happily ever after. I kind of wished a bit more demanding ending, I guess.

Even though Spielberg has yet again a child as his lead, Catch Me If You Can is very stylish crime thriller. It has this adult feel and I believe children or even teens would be bored while watching it. The film must be PG because there’s basically no violence and very little of sex and nudity but the story and especially how it’s told tells that the target audience is civilized, smart adults who has taste and style. Catch Me If You Can has jamesbondish vibe to it without the sexual content. One of the Abagnale’s alter-ego is even named Mr. Fleming.

All of the actors are great; obviously. What else would you wait from DiCaprio, Hanks and Walken? Amy Adams also makes unforgettable role in the film as Abagnale’s love interest. That must have been one of the bigger roles in the beginning of her career. Catch Me If You Can got two Oscar nominations for Walken as Frank’s dad, deservedly so, he’s heartbreaking in a small kind of a way, and un-surprisingly to John Williams who smartly scored the film, I liked the music a lot. DiCaprio was also nominated for the Golden Globe. All in all, the film is good, solid 8/10 but it misses the last punch.